Baked Beans

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Nothing says “autumn” to me like a big, smoky pot of baked beans. The recipe is simple, and though they take a long time to cook, there is little babysitting involved. And…the result is well worth it. It elevates little stone-like beans to a feast of delectability.

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Here are the ingredients:
2 cups of navy beans
1 small onion, peeled
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1 Tablespoon salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup molasses
1 small pork hock, OR 1/4 lb of bacon

Rinse the beans and soak them overnight in 10 cups of water or so. The next morning, strain and rinse the beans. Put them in a large pot and cover with fresh water. Bring them to a boil and then simmer, uncovered, until the skins on the beans split when you lift a spoonful out and blow on them. This takes about 45 minutes, but can vary depending on the age of the beans. Drain the beans.

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Add the pork hock and onion to a casserole dish. Combine the other ingredients and mix well before stirring them into the beans. Add the bean mixture to the casserole dish, nestling them in beside the hock and onion. Add boiling water to just cover the beans. Put a lid on the casserole.

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Put the casserole in a pre-heated 250 degree F oven for about 8 hours. After four hours, check to make sure the beans are still mostly covered with liquid. Top up with boiling water if necessary. Check the liquid level another time in the next 2 hours. Uncover for the last 30 minutes to hour of cooking.

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Take the onion and hock out of the pot. Pull the meat off the bone, chop it and add it back to the beans. You can do the same with the onion if you like, but we just eat it as a side dish. The sauce around the beans will thicken as the beans cool.

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I like to serve these beans with Brother’s Bread, which I will do as a blog tomorrow. I think they are the perfect complement to each other.

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