One of the historic American dishes is Boston Baked Beans. The canned product is so ubiquitous, though, that people have forgotten what a worthwhile dish it is to make yourself. An authentic recipe would start with dried beans and salt pork for flavor and would cook all day in a low oven. It’s easy to do, and I urge you to try it sometime. My version leaves out the salt pork and, if you start with cooked beans, it’s easy and quick enough for a weeknight. For this recipe, I like a bean called Esther’s Swedish, a variety that originated in Scandinavia. It is now grown in America and is a great bean to use in this dish because it holds its shape very well. You can certainly use a more common variety. To add a little crunch, top the beans with some coarse bread crumbs (Japanese-style panko being my favorite) that have been tossed with a little clarified butter or olive oil before baking. For a vegetarian “beans and weenies,” add some marinated seitan or baked tofu to the mixture before baking. Both can be purchased already prepared in natural foods stores and many supermarkets. Of course, nonvegetarian beans and weenies is an option too.
© 2004 John Ash. All rights reserved.