Serious Eats: Recipes

Cook the Book: Boston 'Baked' Beans

[Photograph: Caroline Russock]

My consumption of baked beans is usually limited to barbecue joints but I was dying to see how dried beans would fare in the pressure cooker. This recipe for Boston "Baked" Beans from Cooking Under Pressure by Lorna Sass seemed like the perfect way to test the pressure cooker's dried beans chops.

Unless you are opening a can and reheating it, stove top baked beans are a serious time commitment. Overnight soaking, boiling the beans, and then simmering them for hours with molasses and various other sweet and savory components seems like a whole lot of work for something that is usually accompanies hot dogs.

I happened to have all of the ingredients for this dish conveniently sitting in my pantry and the active cooking time for this recipe clocks in at just under half an hour. Baked beans at home? Under normal circumstances, probably not, but in this case, yes please. The beans are pressure cooked for 15 minutes to soften them and then the rest of the ingredients are sautéed together and added to the drained beans. Then the pressure is brought back up for another 10 minutes.

When I unlocked the pressure cooker to check on my beans I found that they weren't quite finished—they were a little crunchy to the bite. Sass addresses this in recipe and says the beans can be simmered on the stove top until the beans reach your desired doneness.

I decided to add a little last minute molasses and a smoked ham hock to beef up the flavor a bit during the final simmering, and the beans turned out pretty damn good. The cloves and cinnamon really packed an aromatic punch, and the texture was thick and rich. Another win for the pressure cooker for making baked beans that don't come from a can or a styrofoam container.

Win Make it Fast, Cook it Slow

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Cooking Under Pressure to give away this week.

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