It’s opening day at Fenway Park for the Boston Red Sox! Spring is officially here and America’s great pass time is in full swing! After the rough winter Boston has had, this is definitely cause to celebrate. Growing up, my family would make it to Fenway Park once a season. It was always a big event being one of four children. Through the years we got to see some of the greats, Mo Vaughn, Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens and Dwight Evans. And then later with Nomar Garciaparra, Big Papi (David Ortiz), Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez. On any given spring/summer (and hopefully fall) day, you could always find a baseball game on either in the forefront or on in the background at my house. My parents were both staunch Boston Red Sox fans and of course passed that love down to us.
Snacks were abundant at our favorite ball park, usually hot dogs, soft pretzels, cotton candy and peanuts. So today, for opening day, I decided to try my hand at a classic side for my Ball Park Franks, Boston Baked Beans. Here’s how I did it.
This is the Navy bean. It is a small white bean. A lot of people like to make their baked beans with pinto beans and if you prefer the larger pinto, that’s fine too. This is just my preference.
The first step is to rinse and pick through the beans… Here are a few of the little guys who didn’t make the cut for me today.
This next step is pretty easy all be it time consuming… Making baked beans is definitely not something you can do in a rush, at least not when you are making them from dry beans. So take one pound of your favorite light colored bean and soak in 2 quarts of water. You need a lot of water here so that the beans can soak it all in and expand. 6-8 hours. A lot of people say to do this over night. I like to do this after lunch because it is just part one of the soaking for this recipe.
Now through the magic of the internet. 8 hours has gone by and look how our beans have filled up our bowl. Stage one of bean soaking is complete, onto stage two. I do this next stage just before bed because this is an easy recipe, but it has a bunch of ingredients and who has time to throw things together when you are rushing around in the morning? Also, I like that stage two of the bean soaking lets the beans start to soak up the flavors of everything you are throwing in the pot.
Start with chopping up two medium onions.
From here on in you are literally just dumping ingredients into your crock pot.
Measure out half a cup of brown sugar. I used light brown, but if you only have dark brown, that’s fine, it just means there is a bit more molasses in it.
Then measure out a half cup of ketchup.
Dump those in to you crock pot.
Mince 1 garlic clove.
Add in 32 oz. of beer and 2 cups of water. Also, add in that garlic and all the preceding ingredients.
Roughly chop up three slices of thick cut bacon. You could also use salt pork here, but I kind of like the extra layer of flavor bacon brings.
Add in Worcestershire Sauce.
Add in molasses.
Add in Sriracha.
Add in Dijon Mustard.
And here is my little secret ingredient, Espresso powder. This is instant, not just ground… it will melt right into the dish.
Fresh bay leaf… if you don’t have fresh, go ahead and use dry.
Keep adding everything in folks. We’re almost there!
OK… Now a few more ingredients and then you can go to bed! Add in some white wine vinegar (this is what I had, you can use apple cider vinegar), little salt (don’t over do it on the salt, it tends to stop dry beans from plumping and some fresh cracked black pepper. Set your slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours.
When you wake up in the morning, your beans will still look like this… that’s OK… you now set it on high for 8 hours.
And this is what you will see when you get home from work. If for some reason, its not quite like this, just transfer to a dutch oven and boil off any excess liquid with the lid off.
Recipe for Boston Baked Beans:
1 lb. dry Navy beans, soaked 6-8
32 oz. beer
2 cups water
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. ketchup
1/3 c. molasses
2 medium onions, diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
3 T. Dijon mustard
2 T. white wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. pure maple syrup
3 slices center cut bacon, cut up into 6 segments
1 Bay leaf
1 t. sriracha sauce (or your favorite hot sauce)
1 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 t. instant espresso powder
1st soak: Rinse and pick through beans. Soak beans for 6-8 hours in 2 quarts of water. Drain and rinse again.
2nd soak: Add all ingredients into crock pot. set on low over night 6-8 hrs.
Cook: Stir. Set crock pot on high for 8 hours.