Food has an amazing ability to function as a time machine and carry you back to decades gone by and help you relive pleasant weekends spent with family.  For me one of those great memory trigger foods is Boston Baked Beans...often served on top of a thick slice of hot griddled brown bread with raisins.  I know... you probably don't get it at all unless you grew up in a very narrow part of the New England, and  more specifically in the Boston area like I did.  


My family has roots in New England going as far back as the early 1600's (on my maternal grandfathers branch of the family tree)...spending generations in NY & Boston, but around the mid to late 1700's they had some trouble and skedaddled across the border up to New Brunswick Canada. I guess they wanted to sit out the whole American Revolution thing on the sidelines... but a hundred years or so later they made it back to Boston. Henry Wellington Vincent (my grandfather) married Doris Perrault on the day that Hitler decided to invade Poland and start World War Two: September 1st 1939. I remember asking him about the Blitzkreig stealing the thinder from his big day and the only comment he had was "At least Hitler's was ending in `45.... mine keeps going on and on!" Kinda a joking jab about still being married to Doris!

Henry was the creator of this food memory for me and most of my family. He almost always had a pot of beans in the back of the refrigerator and we grew up eating bean sandwiches and just stealing spoonfuls of beans from the pot when no one was looking.

So, for you non-new englanders.... Boston Baked Beans are typically a small white bean cooked with salt pork and onion in a sauce made of mostly molasses, dry mustard powder, salt & pepper. That's it. No ketchup. No Worstershire Sauce. No green peppers. Not bacon, and absolutely no BBQ sauce. I don't mean that you can't make good beans with that stuff, but they won't be BOSTON BAKED BEANS. It is a distinctive flavor, so if you doctor it up then just call them something else... maybe Brooklyn Beans, or Barstoke Beans.

One of the other traditional things that go with Boston Baked Beans is a unique product called "Brown Bread". One of the things that makes it unique is it's cooking method. Steamed. Yep. Steamed Bread. Ewwww... Icky... Gross. Nope! It's awesome. And it goes with the beans like peanut butter goes with jelly. And we cook it in a coffee can like a hobo! It is kinds of spoonbead batter bread made from three grains: Whole Wheat, Rye, and Corn. It also has molasses & raisins and uses baking soda for leavening. The texture is dense, slightly sweet, and grainy.

After it is steamed you slice it about 3/4" thick and toast it on a hot griddle. It is good just by itself, or smeared with cream cheese... but it's true calling is to be griddled just so the edges turn slightly brown and caramelized then buttered and smothered with a heaping spoonful of Baked Beans. That's whaht Um Tawkin`Bout! It's the reason they coined the term "It's Wicked Good!"


Last modified on Saturday, 09 March 2013 00:11

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