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As with any other dish, there are varying schools of thought on Boston Baked Beans. There's your bacon vs. salt pork, your molasses vs. maple syrup, etc. This is my mother's recipe, which I ate all through my childhood, so to me this is how BBB should taste. Live dangerously -- make these once just the way the recipe says before you start fiddling with 'em.
- Wash the beans and pick out any bad ones.
- Put beans in a 3- or 4-quart pot and cover well with water.
- Simmer (NOT boil) for about an hour; check occasionally to be sure water doesn't cook away.
- Drain beans and rinse.
- Return to pot.
- Mix together remaining ingredients (except the salt pork) and stir into beans, together with enough water to cover beans well.
- Put beans into a stoneware pot of some kind. A real beanpot, the kind with the two little handles and the narrow neck, is best. Otherwise, any stoneware pot that holds about 3 quarts and has a well-fitting cover will do. They will not taste as good baked in metal, or even pyrex.
- Cut the salt pork into two or three pieces and add to the pot; push pieces down into the beans somewhat.
- Bake at 300 degrees for 6 to 8 hours.
- Check occasionally, and if top is dry, add more water.
- If you want to, you can put some hot dogs or rope sausage such as Hillshire Farms beef sausage in on top of the beans for the last hour or so of baking. The meat cooks at the same time as the beans, and picks up their flavor.
- The right thing to serve with these beans is, of course, Boston Brown Bread, for which I have noticed a couple of recipes here on the Zaar.
- There are two ways to cut down on the time a bit. One is to simmer the beans about 20 minutes longer and then bake them for only about 3 hours. Also, after simmering, you can put the beans in a crockpot. That takes longer—figure about 18 hours to be sure that the beans won't be crunchy—but they can be left unattended.