A typical Saturday night dinner growing up when I would stay at my grandparents home was a dinner of baked beans, hot dogs or ham and brown bread. Word has it that it was the meal every Saturday night when my Mom was a child. That is a lot of bean suppers! I researched this tradition of bean suppers on Saturday nights which started back in the 1800’s. I had to try my hand with this original recipe and baked the beans in the oven. A long, slow Saturday supper.
My first task was to find the proper beans. Word has it soldier beans are the best to use. I began my search for soldier beans and quickly realized that they were no soldier beans within a 20 mile radius of my home. Thankfully, I found them while back home visiting my Mom…only a 200 mile detour to get the beans…no big deal! The beans are soaked overnight, parboiled, drained and rinsed. A few tricks I learned along the way: How to check to see if the beans are ready during this parboiling phase? Take a spoonful and gently blow on them. If the skins crack they are done. Just before draining add a 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda (there will be a reaction here) and this ‘takes the snapper out’ according to my grandmother. Ingredients Instructions
There are two approaches when it comes to cooking the beans. You can bake them for hours in the oven in a bean pot. Alternately, you can use the slow cooker. I had 2 bean pots and I was wanted to try the oven method.
Molasses, sugar, salt, ginger, dry mustard and pepper are combined. I added some boiling water to this mixture before pouring over the beans. I put a piece of salt pork on the top in each bean pot. Why two pots? We are cooking 2 pounds of beans…and that is enough to feed an entire village (or stash in the freezer for another time)!
The beans are covered and cooked at 300* for about 6 hours. Every hour I would check the beans to make sure there was enough water to cover the beans as they cooked. I ended up adding some onion to one pot but not the other. The onion pot was better in my opinion. During the last hour I removed the cover and let the beans cook.
What to serve with the beans? Boston brown bread of course!
Originally this recipe called to steam the bread in coffee cans in a water bath. I did not use this method. There is another recipe floating around our family that uses all bran and is fantastic. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any all bran. I found this easy boston brown bread recipe which came together in a snap! Sweet Z was rather fond of the bread. I made two mini loaves. One loaf is stashed away in the freezer. The first night I was eating this meal I enjoyed the beans, bread and a veggie dog. Ketchup made an appearance…I am a true Howard after all!!
If you are interested in purchasing “A Collection of Our Favorites” cookbook, contact me and I can get you connected to the right people. There has recently been a reprinting of the original cookbook!
- 1/2 C. whole wheat flour
- 1 C. all purpose flour
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1 t. baking soda
- 1/3 C. brown sugar
- 1/8 - 1/4 C. molasses (I used 1/8 cup and found it perfectly sweet)
- 1 C. buttermilk
- 1/2 C. raisins
- Recipe slightly adapted from Food.com
- Preheat the oven to 350*. Spray 2 small mini loaf pans with nonstick spray.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the wheat flour, all purpose flour, salt, baking soda and brown sugar.
- Mix in the buttermilk and molasses until just combined. Do NOT overmix here.
- Divide the batter between the two small mini loaf pans and let rest for 5 minutes.
- Bake these loaves for 25-35 minutes until a tester in the center comes out clean. Turn out onto a wire rack and let the loaves finish cooling.