DOWN-EAST BAKED BEANS
Serves 4 to 6.
Note: Adapted from “Serious Pig: An American Cook in Search of His Roots,” by John Thorne with Matt Lewis Thorne.
• 1 lb. (2 c.) Maine yellow-eye beans (or Great Northern or white navy beans)
• 1/4 lb. salt pork
• 1/2 c. dark, full-flavored molasses
• 2 tbsp. dark rum
• 1 tsp. mustard powder
• Salt and pepper to taste
Pick over the beans, removing any debris or pebbles. Place beans in a nonreactive pot, cover by 3 inches of water and let sit for 6 to 8 hours.
Place beans and what remains of soaking liquid into a large pot, adding more water if necessary to ensure the beans are covered. Bring this to a simmer, and after 15 minutes, check every 5 minutes until a sharp knife will split the skin of a bean. Then drain the beans into a colander, sitting on top of a bowl to catch the cooking liquid. Return cooking liquid to pot and let simmer on the stove while preparing beans for baking.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
Cut salt pork into bite-sized pieces and pour boiling water over to cover well. Drain after several minutes, discarding the liquid. Mix the salt-pork pieces into the prepared beans and pour them together in a 2-quart bean pot. Stir in the molasses and rum. Dissolve mustard powder in a bit of water and mix this in well. Add seasoning to taste, starting with about 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Pour over just enough of the simmering bean liquid to be visible through the beans.
Turn off the heat under the pot of simmering bean liquid. Reserve to add to baked beans as needed.
Cover baked bean pot and put in the oven. Bake beans for 5 hours, tasting occasionally, noting texture and seasoning, and adding more of the remaining bean liquid (or else water) as necessary. When beans are soft and succulent, stir them well, uncover and bake 1/2 hour more to thicken the liquid into sauce.
Nutrition information per each of 6 servings:
Calories 450 Fat 12 g Sodium 167 mg Saturated fat 4 g