Baked Beans At The VPR Cafe

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This week on the VPR Cafe, Ric Cengeri talks with Melissa Pasanen about the New England Tradition of baked beans and – how we bake them.  They talk about beans grown here in Vermont and "The J Sisters" in Georgia.

The VPR Cafe is produced in collaboration with The Burlington Free
Press.  Melissa Pasanen is a free lance writer for several publications including the Burlington Free Press Savorvore Series

A Vermont mecca for baked beans is the Brownsville Baked Bean Supper.  VPR’s Steve Zind filed this story a few years back.  You’ll find the three baked bean recipes (for a crowd) from the Brownsville cookbook below, thanks to Genevieve Lemire.  Genevieve says you can buy copies of the cookbook at the West Windsor Historical Society Grange Hall in Brownsville.

To soak the beans, or not to soak…. salt pork or vegetarian? What about onions, molasses and ketchup?  Baked bean aficionados are passionate about their recipes, and usually pretty secretive.  But we managed to procure these for you and would love to share yours as well

Ruth Page was a VPR Commentator for many years.  Her daughter, Candace Page, published her mom’s recipe in The Burlington Free Press in 2010:

Ruth Page’s Baked Beans
2 cups yellow-eye or pea beans
1 ham bone or meaty ham hock
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup dark molasses
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1. Soak beans overnight in water to cover. Drain the beans and put them in a large pot, cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer on the stovetop for at least 30 minutes.
2. Put the ham bone in a beanpot (or other casserole) with a tight-fitting lid. Add the beans and their cooking liquid, and the remaining ingredients.
3. Cook in a 250-300-degree oven for six to eight hours. Check occasionally and add more water if the beans seem dry. Taste during the last hour. Add small amounts of ketchup (for more acid) or molasses (for more sweetness) as necessary.

Ginger Isham’s Maple Barbecue Baked Beans
For more maple recipes from Ginger Isham, check out last week’s VPR Cafe.
5 cans beans, drained, a combination of kidney, pinto, great Northern and lima beans ("I use shell beans for one of these sometimes," Isham says).
½ cup chopped onion
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup regular mustard
1 tablespoon chili powder
½ teaspoon of ginger, or more, to taste
¾ cup dark maple syrup (Grade B or C)
8 ounces bottled spicy barbecue sauce
Mix all together and cook in oven for one hour at 350 degrees, or in a crockpot on low for three to four hours.
Adapted from a recipe given to Ginger Isham by a friend, Jeanne Johnson.

Brownsville Baked Bean Supper Red Kidney Bean Recipe
3 Quarts dry kidney beans (5 1/2 pounds)
2 cups sugar
3 teaspoons dry mustard, rounded
1/2 cup molasses
Salt pork (1/2 to 3/4 pound)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
5 teaspoons salt
2 medium onions
Soak beans overnight in a large kettle. Drain, cover with water, and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the beans indent when pinched between your fingers. Remove from heat and drain. Add all other ingredients, cover with water and bake in a 400 degree oven for one hour. Reduce oven temperature to 325 and bake for 5 to 6 hours. Keep checking every hour to make sure beans are kept covered with water and aren’t overcooked.

Brownsville Baked Bean Supper Yellow Eye Recipe
4 pounds dry yellow eye beans
2 cups white sugar
2 cups maple syrup
Salt pork (1/2 pound)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 sliced onions
Soak beans in water overnight.  Parboil, then drain and rinse with cold water.  Add all other ingredients and enough water to cover.  Bake at 325 degrees for 6 hours.  Add water occasionally to beans while baking.

Brownsville Baked Bean Supper Pea Beans Recipe

8 pounds dry pea beans
Salt pork (1 1/2 pounds cut in pieces)
2 pounds brown sugar or 2 cups maple syrup
2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups molasses
4 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons ginger
5 tablespoons salt
3 large onions
Soak beans in water overnight. Change water and parboil until skins crack. Drain, rinse, and add other ingredients. Cover beans with water and bake for about 5 hours at 300 degrees. Add more water as needed to keep the beans covered as they bake.

Mrs. Appleyard’s Vermont Baked Beans*
4 cups yellow-eye beans
1 pound salt pork
2 small onions
1 teaspoon mustard
1/4 cup maple syrup
Soak the beans overnight. In the morning drain them, cover them with cold water and heat them slowly. Keep the water below the boiling point and cook the beans until the skin cracks when you take some out on a spoon and blow on them. This should happen in about 40 minutes.
Drain the beans, saving the water. Cut a thin slice off the pork and put it in the bottom of the bean pot. Put the onions in whole. They will vanish during the cooking and their flavor will be only a memory. Mix the mustard and maple syrup — or brown sugar if you have no syrup on hand — with a cup of boiling water. Put some beans on top of the onions. Make several gashes about an inch deep in the rind of the salt pork. Put it in to the bean pot. Surround it with the rest of the beans, letting the rind show on top. Then pour over the water with the seasonings dissolved in it and add enough more water to cover the beans.
Put the lid on the bean pot and set it in a slow oven, 300 degrees, for eight hours. Add a little water occasionally. After 7 hours, uncover the beans so the rind of the pork will get brown and crisp.
Mrs. Appleyard usually serves some of her own apple-mint chutney with the beans and also some Boston brown bread."
*From The Vermont Year-Round Cookbook, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1965



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