Boston Style Brown Beans – Alberta Style
This is my take on Boston Baked Beans. First of all, tomatoes do not belong in baked beans, neither does ketchup or tomato paste. Let’s just get that point perfectly clear.
This recipe is basically a Boston baked bean recipe with a bit of a twist. I add Jack Daniels Honey Bourbon and cayenne pepper to my beans.
The Cayenne pepper is added to the bacon while it is frying. This allows it to become just a nice little tickle in the back of the mouth with each bite, rather than a burn.
The bourbon is there to, well, I must not lie, I put bourbon in everything, but it does provide a nice accent to the molasses. Just remember, when preparing the sauce, boil long enough that the alcohol is evaporated. We don’t want our kids, or guests getting loaded, and the alcohol will leave a bit of a bitter flavour on the beans.
Also, rather than using a casserole dish, or those fancy baked bean pots, I use my favourite cast iron Dutch oven. So my cooking times are slightly shorter than what I put here. If you use cast iron, cut about 15 minutes off each section of the bean baking process.
Enjoy this dish as either a main course, or as a side dish with any meat meal.
This recipe is a conglomeration of recipes. I didn’t like anything I saw on the internet, so I decided to wing it. These beans are sweet but have a little zing afterwards. For those who don’t believe beans should have tomato sauce in them, you’re in luck. These don’t.
- 2 Lbs Pinto or Navy Beans
- 1 ½ Tsp Kosher or Sea Salt
- 2 Lbs Navy or Pinto Beans
- 2/3 Cup Molasses
- 2 Cups Honey Jack Daniels Bourbon
- 2 Cups Water
- 2 Cups Vegetable or Beef Stock
- 3/4 Lb Slab or Thick Sliced Bacon
- 2 Large Onions
- 1/2 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 2 Tsp Allspice
- 1 Tbsp Dry Mustard Keens
- 2/3 Cup Brown Sugar Dark, Packed
- 1 1/2 Tsp Salt (If required)
Rinse the beans and get as much of the husks off them as possible.
You have to decide how you want to prepare the beans, and how much time you need. There is no right or wrong way. You can soak them overnight, or you can use a quick soak process to get the beans ready.
IF soaking over night, place the beans in a pot and cover with water, so the water is approximately 2” above the beans. That’s it.
If you forget, like I do, that you need the beans for the next day... NO BIG DEAL. PLace beans in a pot. Cover with water until the water is 2” over the beans. Place on the stove. Bring to a boil. As soon as they come to a boil, remove from the heat.
Let the beans rest for about an hour.
After an hour, add 1 ½ tsp of salt to the beans. Bring the water back up to 2” above the beans, and bring to a boil. Once they come to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for approximately an hour. Test them every now and then. You want them to be soft but still firm. If you go too far your Boston baked beans will be mushy. Remember, they are going to cook for 4 hours in sauce.
Drain the beans and get on with the Baked Beans recipe.
Prepare the beans according to instructions above
If using Slab bacon, chop into ¾-1” cubes. Dice one onion to be cooked, and dice the other onion and put aside.
In a large Camp Stove, or Dutch Oven, or thick bottomed pot, cook bacon on a medium high heat. Add 1 diced onion, Cayenne Pepper, Allspice, and Dry mustard. Cook until onions are clarified and the bacon is just off crispy.
In another large saucepan, combine water, stock, and bourbon. Bring to a boil. Add the molasses and brown sugar and stir until the brown sugar is dissolved.
Back at the Dutch oven: Pour ½ of the pinto beans on top of the bacon and onions. Do not mix. Sprinkle the other diced onion on top of the beans, again not mixing. Pour the rest of the beans on top of the onions. Pour the sauce over the beans until it is about 1” above the beans.
Place in centre of oven, covered, and cook for 2 hours.
After 2 hours, remove from the oven. If the beans are nice and tender, add the salt and gently stir the beans, bring the bacon and onions from the bottom and blending everything together. At this point the sauce will still be a little runny. That’s perfect.
Return the pot to the oven and cook for another 2 hours. If you like your beans with a lot of sauce, leave the pot covered. If you prefer nice thick sticky beans, keep the pot uncovered. For the last 30 minutes, remove the cover and turn the oven up to 400 degrees.
Serve as either a main dish or as a side dish to pork chops, steak, or any other meat.