Good Food Boston Baked Beans

Magazine: Good Food
Issue: February 2013
Recipe Rating:
Difficulty Rating:


Yeehaw! Cowboy food partner! Eating this rustic dish I could imagine myself sat around the camp fire as the chef dishes out the beans and pork belly directly from the chuck wagon. It's certainly not a dish I remember having before despite many trips to Boston, but it made a welcome change, and was delicious served with thick bread and butter. To add some additional authenticity I drank a glass of Guinness with the dish in honour of the enormous Boston Irish community.

I've never quite understood regular UK baked beans. They are enormously popular, and on an occasional basis I may even shift a can full myself, albeit certainly no more regularly than once every six months. I can't help think these beans, and they are peculiar to the UK, must be full of very bad things. That colouring looks distinctly unnatural to me, and they are laden with sugar. Don't bother with the sugar free variety either - totally unpalatable. Yet these Boston beans appear eminently more healthy and are certainly tastier, yet I'm damned if I've ever seen anything like being sold in the UK.

The big shortcoming of this dish is the cooking time - a whopping 3.75 hours which clearly rules out as an after work dinner selection. Nope, this has to be a weekend event, and in addition the haricot beans need to be soaked overnight and thus advance planning is required.

Changes from Published Recipe

I had to be of nimble thought for this dish - I was sent 600g of belly pork by Tesco (I'm sure I ordered only 400g?) but the recipe called for 800g. So I factored the remaining ingredients to roughly the correct ratio without being too anal about it. Measurements for 50g (there are a few) were scaled to 40g.

The cooking time for the meat was a rather vague 2.5->3hrs; I opted to go for the full term of 3hours and that proved to be a good choice. The belly pork had cooked through and was melt-in-the mouth.

The haricot beans should have soaked overnight, but I soaked them the best part of a day, and cooked them close to 55 minutes (an additional 10 minutes more than suggested) before adding the meat and the syrup and onions.

The recipe in the magazine was poorly written and confusing with a reference to 'returning' the pan to the oven before it had actually been in the oven in the first place. A job a sub editor really should have picked up on.