4 • July 2018 • UPBEAT TIMES, INC. L

Eat Well & Prosper: “BOSTON BAKED BEANS” by Executive Chef Ron Skaar of Redwing, Mn. ~

ong before recorded history, for thousands

of years, dried beans have helped sustain human life. Legumes have long been a substitute food to the protein rich, yet more expensive animal

food. They are


cially prev- alent in the cuisines

of Asia, Central

and South America

and the

Mediterranean. Roman legions relied heavily on beans because they were easy to store and trans- port. Beans were so revered by the Romans that royal families derived their surnames from the Latin names for legumes, i.e. Fa- bius from the Fava bean and Ci- cero from the Chick pea. Ancient Peruvian pottery pic-

tures Indians holding beans in one hand and corn in the other. Nearly every type of edible bean grown today has been found in antiquat- ed Incan graves. The ones used to make baked beans are all native to South America.

These same beans were introduced to Europe around 1528. Throughout the Middle Ages, beans became a staple food of Northern European coun- tries. Some traditions say sailors, visiting the south of France, bought cas- soulet and enjoyed the white bean stew with fresh and salted meats, while on board ship. In the New World, beans became an important protein source when game was scarce. In the United States and Canada almost all the dried beans we eat are descendants of the common bean that was cultivated over

7,000 years ago, in South Amer- ica.

Baked beans are believed to be based on a Native American dish in which they were cooked with animal fat and maple syrup. The

This dish and method became a stable at logging camps in New England.

The Pilgrim settlers

spent most of their Sunday’s at church, obeying the rest and wor- ship rules of the sabbath. Beans were cooked on Satur- day night and left in the warm oven overnight to become a simple super on Sunday. Boston be- came the center of rum production during co- lonial time, and molas- ses was a plentiful by product of its making. Molasses became the economical sweetener of choice and began to be added to the baked bean recipe, along with

Iroquois, Narraganset, Penobscot and other east coast tribes soaked navy beans, mixed them with bear fat and maple syrup, then slow cooked them over embers in earthen or deer skin pots.

salt pork. Voila, Boston baked beans are born.

Canned beans were one of the

first convenience foods available. By 1886, Heinz is selling tins of tomatoey baked beans as a pricey foreign delicacy at the Fortnum & Mason store in London. Beans in tomato sauce over toast soon be- came a part of every upscale Eng-

EW & P Recipe July 2018



4 ounces salt pork, trimmed of rind and cut into 1/2 inch cubes 2 ounces (2 slices) bacon, cut into 1/4 inch pieces

1 medium onion, chopped fine

1/2 cup plus 1 table spoon mild molasses

11/2 tablespoons spicy mustard

1 pound (2 1/2 cups) dried small white beans, picked over

Salt 9 cups water

1 teaspoon cider vinegar Ground black pepper


Adjust oven rack to lower- middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. In a large Dutch oven over medi- um heat sauté salt pork and bacon until lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Add onion, continue


lish, Scottish and Irish breakfast. Heinz, Campbell’s, Van Camps, B & M and Bush’s all produce baked beans with the sweet-savory fla- vor we prefer in the States. Bush’s adds mustard for tang to all of it’s products, which is stan- dard along the Eastern seaboard. My mom always added extra brown sugar and molasses to her favored B & M brand.

Beans are an excellent source of protein and dietary fiber. Cooking dried beans for an extended time helps avoid any gastrointestinal problems. July is our national month to celebrate baked beans.

4 • July 2018 • UPBEAT TIMES, INC. cook, stirring

occasionally, until onion is softened. Add the 1/2 cup molasses, mustard, beans, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and wa- ter, bring to a boil. Cover the pot and set in oven. Bake until beans are tender, about 4 hours, stirring once after 2 hours.

Remove lid and continue

to bake until the liquid has thickened, 1 1/2 to 2 hours longer. Remove from oven, stir in additional 1tablespoon molasses, the vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4-6.

“Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.” ~ Bertrand Russell

Chef Ron

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