Gameday prep.

After leaving the corporate world, I shared with my cousin that my primary goal was to move beyond CLUELESS in the kitchen learn how to cook... not just the basics- the "whole enchillada" (as my grandpa used to say).

She suggested that I immediately set my dvr to record 2 shows.  Giada's & Tyler's.  Why not Ina as well, some may wonder?  Who knows.  I sure didn't.  I don't believe I had ever seen a food network program, and surely didn't know any of its featured chefs.  It actually worked perfect.  Although I loved them both, Ryan (who often watched too) resonated more with Tyler's style of cooking, and I, with Giada.  But really, who am I kidding?  He enjoyed watching Giada just as much as I did.  I'm sure of it.  ...Then again, what guy wouldn't??  Anyways, I'm digressing.

She also gifted me with a subscription to Fine Cooking.  She mentioned that this was her absolute favorite food magazine... the only one that she keeps in it's entirety (each and every issue)- in tact for future reference.  And I couldn't agree more.  The recipes are written with incredible detail (but not so much that you feel like you're reading a camera instruction manual).  The focus is always on technique, rather than style.  Tips, substitutions, and strategies are always included.  The recipes range from simple ways to use a specific ingredient to- open, adaptable, complex, and sophisticated. {Case in point- I'll forever rely on my 2007 Thanksgiving issue to get me through the day.}

Unfortunately, I no longer receive the magazine.  I refuse to allow myself to sign up for any new subscriptions- until I can unbury myself and/or work my way through the existing PILES.  {& this is not a magazine to offer discounted-i-beg-you-to-renew rates... otherwise, I'd have been sucked in to renewal long ago}  

That said, this week's new recipe is a prime example of the necessity of our 2012 resolution.  And besides that...  Superbowl is quickly approaching, my friends.  And we all know that it's really all about the food.  Right?  Right.

{we usually 'fancy it up' a bit- one year, a greek-themed menu, last year, grilled pizza galore... this year- we're goin' old-school.  hot dogs n' beans (& all of the usual suspects- chips, dips, carb-fest-salads...).  so of course, I had to test the beans out, and they were in fact "the best" baked beans I've ever had.}

{"best-ever"} boston baked beans

yields about 7 cups 

1 lb navy beans, yellow-eye beans, or other dried white beans (I used navy)
1/4 lb salt pork, rind removed in one piece and reserved meat cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 medium onion (5-6 oz), cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
2 tbs dark molasses (not blackstrap) (I used grandma's original, as dark version was not a/v)
2 tbs pure maple syrup
3 tbs heinz chile sauce or tomato ketchup (I used chile sauce)
2 tbs dijon mustard
1 tbs worcestershire sauce
freshly ground pepper
1 tbs apple cider vinegar

Sort through the beans to make sure there are no little stones and then put them in a large bowl or pot.  Add enough cold water to cover the beans by 2 inches and let soak overnight.  (Alternatively, put the beans in a 4-qt saucepan.  Add enough cold water to cover by 2 inches and bring just to a boil.  Remove from the heat and soak for 2 hrs.)

Drain the beans well, tilting the colander instead of shaking it to gently extract the water and protect the beans' skins.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350.  Heat a large dutch oven or other heavy 5 qt. pot over medium heat.  Add the diced salt pork and cook to a crisp, golden color, letting most of the fat render, about 10 minutes.  Add the onion and garlic and cook until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes.

Add 4 cups water, the molasses, maple syrup, chile sauce or ketchup, mustard, worcestershire sauce, and pepper to taste.  Stire well to combine.  Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Add the drained beans and the reserved pork rind and wait for the boil to return.  Cover the pot and transfer to the oven.

After the beans have been in the oven for 10 minutes, turn the heat down to 300.  After 1 hour, check and add water to keep the beans barely covered.  Check again every hour.  You may need to add up to 1 cup water for navy beans and 1 1/2 cups water for yellow-eye beans, but be wary of making them too watery, especially near the end of cooking.  The beans are ready when they're very soft and tender yet still retain their shape, 2-2 1/2 hrs. for navy beans; 3 1/3 hrs. for yellow-eye beans.

Remove the beans from the oven and discard the pork rind.  Add the vinegar and season the beans with more pepper, if desired.  Stir the beans gently; as you stir, the starches will be released and the baked beans will become lightly thickened.  Don't overmix when they're this hot.  Let them sit for at least 20 minutes before serving.  They can also be cooled completely, refrigerated, and then gently reheated.

*the only adaption that I made is that I did not add any salt to the beans (the pork salt provided enough salt), therefore I omitted the option/addition of salt from the above recipe.


Head over to see Stephanie's scrumptious recipe... from the one & only Ina Garten~ butternut squash salad with warm cider vinaigrette... definitely a step up from the mayonnaise-based salads I'll be devouring in a couple a' weeks :).         


  1. mmm! I need to decide what to make this year! I did bacon-wrapped jalepenos last year that were a huge hit.

  2. Right! I really enjoy my older issues of cooking magazines rather than the currents. There is something special about a recipe from the past, even if it is only two years paast. I am just going to add these to my list since you already tested them out me :) ...

  3. This looks so delish, love beans. Before I came here we only knew baked beans in a can, the English kind. These pork ones look yum and something even I (lazy me) could take a crack at!

  4. LOVE Tyler! Also, I don't think you realize what you just did by publishing this post.... you're essentially teasing and inviting everyone to come over for Superbowl weekend :P

    Loved last year's post on grilled pizzas, I think that was the first post I read from your blog! Awwww

  5. Beans! Yes, these look yummo. And I need to know the rest of the menu...!


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