Boston Baked Beans (sort of…)

I am back, after a few weeks of writer’s block as well as not too much going on to write about. Being that it has been pretty slow here, I decided to look up recipes for comfort food that didn’t involve jalapeños or hot sauce. Since there are plenty of beans here, I decided to make baked beans from scratch.

First task was to find a recipe and then translate the ingredients into Spanish. Found a recipe online and then translated. Here are the ingredients and then what I actually used, because of availability.

1 lb. dried navy beans or Great Northern beans = 1/2 kg. frijoles blancos or frijoles blancos del Norte. Not sure what type of beans I used. Went into Doña Meche’s tienda and she gave me an unlabelled plastic bag of dried beans when I wrote out what I needed

1/4 lb. bacon or salt pork = 60 gm tocino (actual bacon)

1 cup chopped onion = 1 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup molasses or maple syrup = sweet barbecue sauce and some maple syrup left behind by another staff member

1/4 cup packed brown sugar = piloncillo, a dark sugar compressed into a cone shape

dry powdered mustard = regular yellow mustard

salt and pepper = salt and pepper

The greatest amount of time was spent soaking and cooking the dried beans. After a day, I decided they were reconstituted enough to finally bake. I also decided to mix half barbecue sauce and half maple syrup in order to try to have as much of a sweet molasses taste as possible.

Wasn’t quite sure how to handle the piloncillo, though. The internet is a real blessing for finding out stuff, and so I looked up how to use it. One source talked about chopping it up, but another source said something about heating it in a microwave, which is less time-consuming. So I put one cone on a saucer and stuck it in the microwave – oops, kept it in a little too long, and ended up with melted sugar which instantly hardened on the saucer and I couldn’t peel it off.  After experimenting with timing, and frequently stopping the microwave, I ended up with a sticky mass that I could peel off the saucer, and figured it would melt into the beans in the oven (and it did).

When everything was mixed, I put it all into a clay cooking vessel, and then carried it to the Suegras residence, where the oven is more accurate. (As an aside – ovens are not used that much around here – almost everything is cooked on top of the stove, or over an open fire for those who do not have stoves.)

In any case, after 2  1/2 hours it was finished baking. Brought it back, but it turned out that all but one of the staff members had made other plans for lunch. The one staff member who ate with me didn’t really say much, even though I told her I wouldn’t be insulted if she decided to add hot sauce to it.

Even though I made plenty and told everyone that they could have some, it seems that I am the only one eating it. Oh, well, more for me, and I can rest assured that whatever food I decide to make for myself, I will be able to find an adequate substitute down here in Mexico. And, by the way, it does taste pretty close to the traditional Boston baked beans – which I have re-named Frijoles al Horno de Boston in honor of my new home.




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