Boston Baked Beans

Pressure Cook, Then Bake for a Short Cut

Maybe 30 years ago I was gifted a bean pot, tallish—with jug ear handles—and a small opening so beans could cook in a low oven for hours upon hours. I did this almost reverently, mostly on Sundays starting early in the morning so to have plenty of cook time to mellow and soften those navy beans. The smell of molasses and mustard wafting through the house was an extra gift.

My bean pot is long lost, but I bring joy to you with a two step method: pressure cooker and oven—so you can enjoy long-baked beans in just a few minutes prep time and a couple hours with those gorgeous aromas tugging at you!

INGREDIENTS: Tradition has navy beans as the pulse, but great northern variety also works

  • Pressure cooker:
    • beans – 1 LB, dried [2-1/2 cups]
    • water – 3-1/2 cups
    • salt – 1 1/2 tsp
  • Casserole
    • onion – 2 cups, minced
    • garlic – 1 TBS, minced
    • clove – ground, 1/8 tsp [or allspice]
    • smoked paprika – 1 tsp [or 1 tsp liquid smoke]
    • molasses – 1/4 cup
    • maple syrup – 2 TBS
    • ketchup – 2 TBS
    • mustard, dry – 2 tsp [or 1 TBS prepared]
    • pepper – 1/4 tsp
  • Top of Casserole
    • meat/protein – [opt.], a few strips bacon, couple sliced hot dogs, a few slices of prosciutto
    • olive oil – 2 TBS
I Had Prosciutto So I Used for Protein—a Nice Umami Boost

INSTRUCTIONS: If you have canned beans, combine with the ingredients above [except meat and oil] and go to Step 3

  1. To a pressure cooker add the beans water and salt; bring to pressure and cook for 20-22 minutes
  2. Release pressure and taste for tenderness, if still tough, return to pressure for 5 minutes
  3. To the pressure cooker stir in the remaining casserole ingredients, except for the meat and oil
  4. Bring back to pressure and cook for 3 minutes
  5. Preheat oven to 325º
  6. Pour the pressure cooker contents into a baking dish, taste and adjust the salt, top with protein in a single layer and brush generously with the olive oil
  7. Bake for one hour-fifteen minutes, check occasionally that the beans don’t dry out; if so, add a couple TBS water and continue to bake until protein crisps and a thin bean crust forms
Top, Clockwise: Potato Salad, Boston Baked Beans, Grilled Chicken with Green Garlic Sauce, and Asian Slaw

PLANNED OVER RECIPES:

Has-Bean Boston Refried Beans

Talk about turning lemons into lemonade. One cooking episode I overcooked the beans during the oven cycle. They were dry and quite unappealing. So I resurrected them by mashing and frying them. What a great dish—all by itself.

  • Mash the beans
  • Add a little oil to a pan and cook some onion and garlic
  • add the mashed beans, some hot sauce
  • cover and cook on low for a couple minutes
  • garnish with parsley or cilantro

Has-Bean Boston Boston Dip

Purée the leftover beans and spike with a dab of Dijon mustard, a drizzle of Worcestershire, a couple spoonfuls of barbecue sauce, a handful of chopped chives or herbs. Serve at room temperature on a cracker and crudité board

Recipes by B. Hettig

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