Boston Baked Beans

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This recipe comes from Poetry in Cooking​1​, by Lille W. Eliel, 1897.

There are probably few recipes that are so easily identifiable as American than Boston Baked Beans, but most people today probably have never actually had an authentic version. Today’s baked beans are extremely sweet, swimming in a syrup of various sugars and spices. Whereas yesteryear’s baked beans were elegant in their simplicity, beans, pork, and maybe a spoonful of sweetener.

Boston Baked Beans Recipe
Boston Baked Beans Recipe

As you see above, there’s really not much to it. And if you’re thinking to yourself, “that looks awful bland and uninteresting” well, you’re not alone, I thought that too. The secret is the long cooking time. This allows the flavor of the beans to develop, and to absorb the flavors of the smoked pork.

Finished Boston Baked Beans

For the smoked pork in this recipe, I cut the meat from a smoked ham hock I got from my local butcher. I cut the skin from it first, and reserved that to place on top of the beans for more flavor. Regular ham will work, but it should be a good smoked one, not the water-infused type normally found in the grocery store. A very lean, smoked bacon will work in a pinch, if you can get it in chunks, not slices. Modern salt pork is not a good choice, it is far too fatty. Salt pork in the 19c and earlier was much, much leaner.

  1. (1)
    Eliel, L. W. Poetry in Cookery; J. W. Franks and Sons: Peoria, Illinois, 1897.

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