Boston-Style Baked Beans

It is with the comfortable sense and security of hindsight that I can share the last of my bacon role-playing recipes. I made a batch of authentic Boston Baked Beans (Laker thing, hehehe) as detailed in one of my favorite cookbooks, Fat, An appreciation of a misunderstood ingredient by Jennifer McLagan. The recipe calls for 1 pound of dried white pea beans however, I looked everywhere and the best I could do was Great Northern beans which are actually a pretty good substitution. You have to start this recipe a day or two in advance as you have to soak the beans for 24 hours before getting started. I purchased two pounds (used one) from Fresh n Easy and soaked them for a little more than a day.

Dried Great Northern Beans

The next day I drained the beans in a colander and returned them to a sauce pan and covered them with about 2 cups of water and set to a boil. After boiling I removed the pan from heat, skimmed the white scum floating on top of the water (Celtic fans?, cheap shot, sorry!) and again drained while reserving the cooking water this time. After drained I added the beans to my enameled Dutch oven.

Beans, post soak with 2 cups water for boiling

Next, I assemble the rest of the ingredients necessary to accommodate a pound of Great Northern beans. The ingredients are as follows:
6 cipolini onions
4 whole cloves
1 pound fresh bacon or salt pork
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup molasses
1 tablespoon dried mustard
1 teaspoon salt

Rest of ingredients (sans brown sugar)

I clearly used more tha 6 of the cipolini onions because I really like onion in my baked beans. I peel 4 of the cipolinis and skewer them and pierce each with a clove of clove (is that right?).

Skewered (clove pierced) cipollini onions

I chopped the rest of the cipolini onions and added them to the beans.

beans and onions

Next I added the salt, dried mustard, molasses, brown sugar (omitted from photograph above, we so fired that dude) and DOUBLED the bacon of course.

Rest of the party added to beans and onions

I then the reserved liquid from boiling the beans, skewered onions and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon until well combined.

Everyone in the swimming pool!

I cover the pot and bake them in the oven for 4 hours.

After being baked, covered, for about 2 of the 4 hours

I then removed the lid and left uncovered for about two hours, shutting the oven (350 degrees) off after the first hour. I regret not taking a picture of the pot before I stirred it. After stirring, some of the beans broke and formed a bean/refried bean texture which where big in taste yet weak when it comes to sexy baked bean pictures.

BAKED beans, super tasty - not so sexy...

We enjoyed this with some Medisterpolse sausage, danish style sausage, that I had made before I decided to blog, thus no recipe at current. It was great and as such I will be sure to make a batch in the near future.

New England Clam Chowder

I decided to dedicate some of the fresh bacon (dry cured and not smoked) toward a traditional Boston-Style New England Clam Chowder. Despite the triple digit temperatures I often mention I decided this is the least I can do for my Celtic friends in the midst of an intense battle with the Los Angeles Laker series. I will now divulge that my passion for the LA Lakers which is on par with my passion for Charcuterie. I probably just lost half of my readership! For this recipe I refer to follow my old faithful, The Joy of Cooking written by Irma Rombauer. I have yet to be disappointed by anything from this cookbook which has been around since the Thirties! This recipe is actually from a Boston chef and is extremely thick and creamy.

The recipe is as follows:
5 pounds fresh clams
2 slices of bacon (I tripled it, so 6)
1 medium onion, ½ inch dice
1 bay leaf
½ tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 red new potatoes, ½ inch dice
1 cup heavy cream
Black pepper and chopped parsley to taste

Littleneck Clams

I went to AJ’s Fine Foods and purchased some really nice littleneck clams. The first thing I did was scrub each clam with a vegetable brush just to make sure they were clean on the surface.

The next thing is to clean them on the inside which is done by soaking the clams in cold salty water for 30 minutes or more. When satisfied take the clams and strain them into a colander. If you look closely the clams will have expelled sand into the salty water. Rinse the clams and gather some ingredients to flavor your clam stock.

Aromatics for Clam Stock

I took some onion, bay leaf, thyme and I decided to add celery despite not being in the original recipe. You will notice that it is very hard for me to actually follow a recipe exactly. With that said, one commitment that I made to the recipes in Charcuterie is to follow them precise to a T. I tossed the celery, onion, bay leaf and thyme into a pot and add the clams.

Stock Party

I then poured in two cups of water and set the pot to boil. I am not going to lie…I kinda felt bad for the clams for about a minute however, once I smelled the stock I quickly moved on. I boiled the clams for about 15 minutes and was happy to see that they all opened up. This is a testament to the freshness of the clams and tells you that they were alive when you put them into the pot. If any are not to open this would suggest they were dead and you should discard them.
I then took the clams and stock and poured them into a chinoise (a very fine strainer) while reserving the stock. I also used a paper towel to line the chinoise with, thinking that it may catch any fine grit.

Boiling Away

Next I assembled the red potatoes, onions, heavy cream, black pepper, thyme, parsley and I decided to double the butter and the bacon, being the health nut I am.

I tossed the bacon into a skillet and began rendering the fat while browing the bacon. A very important scientific reaction takes place when you brown meats. This is referred to as the Maillard reaction and occurs when the proteins recombine with the sugars and the meat browns while exponentially enhancing the flavor.

Dude

After the bacon was on its way I added the celery, onion and thyme and cooked them until the onions are translucent.

Next I added the red potatoes.

This is where the flavorful clam stock you made comes into action. Add the reserved clam broth and bring everything to a boil. Be sure to use a wooden spoon and scrape all of those little bacon bits of love so that they incorporate into the stock.

Next you add the heavy cream and the clams (chopped) that you harvested from their shells and allow the soup to gently simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes. I actually simmered my for about 40 minutes and still found the potatoes to have a nice texture and allowed the other ingredients more time to get to know each other.

While the soup simmered I assembled the rest of the necessary players to enjoy the soup and was happy to find Diamond Bakery crackers in our pantry. We lived in Hawaii for 10 years and still have family there that is kind enough to send us care packages. These crackers are an island main stay and have a nice firm crunch that stands up to the mighty Bostonian clam chowder, much like the Lakers are going to do tomorrow night in game 6, please god, please!

Diamond Bakery Hawaiian Soda Crackers

I plated the chowder in a large bowl and sprinkled some chopped parsley and a few dashes of Old Bay Seasoning.

Chowda Head

This was an excellent use for the bacon and I highly suggest you try it yourself. In all it took a little more than an hour and was as good as any chowder I have had. Next is authentic Boston Baked Beans featuring bacon again!