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Boston Baked Beans

We know, we know. Offering Boston Baked Beans to a U.S. audience makes us guilty of ‘taking coals to Newcastle,’ but these are so delicious we can’t help ourselves! You’ll find that they are simple to make, and the entire house smells fabulous as they bubble along self-sufficiently in the oven — you need only time to have a success on your hands. We served them recently with turkey and feta burgers and a crisp green salad, much to everyone’s satisfaction. So here they are, without apology!

Although the recipe calls for soaking the beans overnight, if you didn’t plan ahead, here is an easy method for preparing the beans:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the beans, return to a boil, and boil rapidly for 2 minutes. Set aside for one hour, then proceed with the recipe.

Be sure not to salt the beans until they are fully cooked, at the end of the recipe, as this can make them tough.

Boston Baked Beans

14 oz. navy beans (2 cups)
3  small onions, quartered
5 whole cloves
2 oz. light muscovado sugar (1/3 cup packed)*
2 oz. black treacle (1/4 cup plus 1 tsp.)**
2 oz. ketchup (1/4 cup plus 1 tsp.)
1 tbs. English mustard powder
2 tbs. red wine vinegar
4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into large cubes

Soak the beans in a large pot of water overnight. The next day, drain and rinse the beans and return them to the pot. Cover with water and simmer for 40 minutes until just tender. Check the pot periodically to make sure the beans are always covered with water.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beans to a bean pot or other oven-proof pot. Stud one of the onion quarters with the cloves. Add the remaining ingredients to the bean pot and stir. Add enough of the water the beans cooked in to just cover the beans. Place in a 325°F oven and cook for 3-3 1/2 hours until the beans are creamy. Give a taste for salt and season.

*You may substitute dark brown sugar if light muscovado is unavailable.

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