The crisp edge of autumn air seems almost to call out for big pots of beans ― rib-sticking, winter-insulating, sweet-with-maple, salty-with-pork pots of beans.
A couple of weekends ago, friends invited us to a pig roast for which we needed to bring a side dish or dessert. I had a bunch of local dried beans on hand for a project, so I decided that baked beans would make a good contribution and would also take care of some research on how different varieties of beans cooked up.
I needed three different pots to bake them in and I only had two of the right dimensions, so I started digging through my cupboards. At the same time, I remembered the words of one near-nonagenarian Vermonter I had interviewed who said that beans never taste right unless they’re cooked in a real bean pot.
So I was digging and wishing that I’d had the forethought to borrow a bean pot when I remembered a squat, potbellied brown and beige ceramic pot that we stored change in for at least 15 years. I hadn’t seen in a while, but I found it (miraculously) and checked the web and learned that indeed I had a bean pot of my very own.
The pot-baked beans were very good, although I can’t say that they were the best I ever had. There were a number of variables at work between the three pots I cooked up, so I’ll have to do another more controlled experiment.
They did look the best though, and I’ve got to believe though that the little bean pot was happy to be full and warm again after all these years.
Every old Vermont family has its own recipe for baked beans. Here’s one from “The Official Vermont Maple Cookbook” Second Edition published by the Vermont Maple Foundation as posted on the Morse Farm website.