Sweetened with molasses, maple syrup, and barbeque sauce, pork and beans is a staple of community gatherings, and hand-painted “Bean Supper” signs are as common to the rural Maine landscape as stone walls. Many folks grow their own — heirloom varieties, such as Jacob’s cattle beans, navy beans, and soldier beans — and hang them in the barn to dry. Later, with a few bottles of cider and some willing friends, shelling beans makes a fine afternoon pastime.
PORK AND BEANS
Serves 8, with a week’s worth of leftover lunches for two.
2 pounds beans (navy, Jacob’s
cattle, soldier), soaked overnight
in plenty of water
1 pound thick-cut slab bacon,
ideally purchased whole and cut
into 1-by-½-inch cubes
2 small yellow onions, peeled and
cut in half
6 garlic cloves, left in skins
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 bay leaf
¼ cup molasses
¼ cup maple syrup
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
½ cup barbeque sauce
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Pour beans through a colander and rinse with cold water. In a medium Dutch oven, combine beans, bacon, onions, garlic, mustard, bay leaf, molasses, and syrup. Nearly cover the beans with water. Season generously with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil on the stovetop and then turn off the heat. Place uncovered in the oven for two hours. Mix cider vinegar and barbeque sauce into the beans and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Serve with traditional New England–style brown bread or a dense country loaf.