Someone needs to dust this beauty off and bake some beans in it

Advancing toward dinner tomorrow,  I’ve got a batch of poolish for ciabatta bubbling away.  I’ll turn it into dough in the morning, then bake it in time to be cool and sandwichable by dinnertime.  I’m about to start a batch of pulled pork and one of baked beans.  Both will cook very slowly and gently in the oven overnight.  You should be able to follow your nose to my house in the morning.  Bobby Flay posted a photo on Twitter the other day of a pork shoulder he’d roasted at 200 degrees for 13 hours until it reached an internal temp of 185.  If he can do it, so can I.  So can you.

The pulled pork is one I’ve been making for some time.  It’s the only one the son will eat.  He says it spoils him for being able to eat any other kind, so when he visits, I send him home with ziplock bags full of it frozen.  When I go to visit him and the magnificent Malary this summer, I’ll take along reinforcements.  Even the Occasional Vegetarian, aka the daughter, loves it.

I hope they feel the same about the baked beans.  I must confess that I have never made true baked beans starting with the dry bean, so this is something of an adventure.  I asked a question about them on Food52, and the resulting thread gave me lots of good ideas.  I have some basic issues with baked beans.  First, I do not like molasses.  Not in a box, not on the rocks, I do not like green eggs and molasses said Sam I Am.  Were this a teaching situation and the master recipe called for it, certainly I would use it, and also follow the kitchen rule to Taste Everything.  But this is my own kitchen, and I get to set the rules here.  Second, I do not like overly sweet baked beans.  I don’t like overly sweet anything, for that matter, but I really don’t like sweet baked beans.  So I used all of these guidelines, if you will, to vector in on flavors I do like.  And I love black beans, so last night I rinsed a half-pound of them and set them to soak in cold water overnight.

I want all this in the oven tonight because I have plans for tomorrow that do not involve being anchored to the kitchen.  First, there are no basketball games on television.  Second, the weather forecast implies that we will have a reprieve from days of rain.  Third, it is Memorial Day.  This marks the third spring since my father died.  The 15th since my husband died.  And in a cupboard in the living room – I know, don’t ask –  I discovered my mother’s old bean pot.

My mother collected antiques.  Furniture, earthenware crocks, a bean pot.  From old cooking stains on the underside of the lid, clearly someone used it; I just don’t recall that it was ever she.  Among many of her sad tendencies was one to collect objects she loved and wanted, then put them away and never use them.  It’s time it saw some beans.

Since my father died, on significant dates I like to take the dogs and visit the spot where my sister and I scattered his ashes.  He chose a beautiful spot.  We can hike for miles.  It sees cross-country skiers shoosh past in winter, and duck and goose families on the lake in spring.  I talked to the son yesterday, and he and the magnificent Malary are planning a barbecue party tomorrow.  On Memorial Day, on July 4th, on Labor Day, we usually barbecued something outside and luxuriated in a Monday holiday, frequently with my sister’s family.  Together.  We’re all far-flung now, but that’s no reason to skip a feast and a celebration.


Makes lots of sandwiches

5 to 6 pounds of boneless pork shortribs

Olive oil

Sea or kosher salt and grinds of pepper

2 yellow onions, peeled, 1/2″ dice

4 cloves garlic smashed and peeled

6 dried japones peppers

12-ounce bottle of good beer – I’m using Blue Moon Summer Honey Wheat

28-ounce can diced tomatoes

4 ounces soy sauce

2 ounces Worstershire Sauce

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.  Salt and pepper all sides of the shortribs.
  2. You’ll need a large, oven-safe pan.  My Le Creuset French Oven works perfectly.  Warm it over medium heat.  Film the bottom with olive oil.  When it shimmers, or ribbons, it is hot.  Brown the shortribs in batches, and don’t crowd the pot.  If you do, you’ll slow the browning time way down, and reduce the chance that you’ll get a good caramelization on the meat.  Brown all four sides to a deep golden brown.  You’re obviously not trying to cook them through, just to get a good caramelization on the surface that will contribute a marvelous depth of flavor.  Remove each batch to a platter or cutting board and continue until all have been well browned.  Remove the last batch as well.
  3. Add the onions to the pot, along with about 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened and a bit browned on the edges.  Their water will help deglaze all the luscious browned bits from the bottom of the pot.  Add the garlic and sauté until very fragrant.  Add the beer.  Let it foam up, then subside, and boil for a few minutes.  Add the tomatoes, soy sauce, Worstershire Sauce, and the whole japones peppers.  Stir it all together and let it come to an active simmer.  Return the shortribs to the pot, immersing them in the liquid.  Again let the mixture come to a simmer.
  4. Place the lid on the pot and set it in the oven.  Check it before your go to bed, because you know you’ll feel you need to.  It should be just gently simmering.  Poke the meat down into the liquid again.  Replace the lid.  Shut the oven door.  Go to bed.


Makes a bean potful

I cannot bring myself to add ketchup to these unless it’s my own Mango Ketchup.  If you must use conventional ketchup, also add the juice of 1/2 lemon.

1/2 pound dry black beans rinsed, soaked in cold water overnight, drained and rinsed again

4 ounces pancetta, 1/2″ dice

1 yellow onion, 1/4″ dice

2 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, minced

8 fluid ounces mango ketchup

4 fluid ounces maple syrup – the good stuff

2 ounces cider vinegar

1 tablespoon mustard powder

2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, minced along with 1 tablespoon of  the adobo

  1. Warm a stainless steel saucepan over medium heat.  Add the pancetta.  When it has begun to render its fat enough to film the bottom of the pot, but before it browns overly, remove it to a small bowl with a slotted spoon.
  2. Add the onions.  Sauté until softened.  Add the garlic and sauté until very fragrant.  Stir in the ketchup, maple syrup, and vinegar.  Add the mustard powder, chipotle chiles and adobo.  Stir to blend and bring to a simmer.
  3. Pour the sauce mixture into your bean pot (or other oven-safe vessel with a lid).  Stir in the beans and the reserved pancetta.  Cover the pot and place in a 200 degree oven for several hours.  Before you go to bed, remove the lid and give the contents a gentle stir because you may be as OCD as I am.  Replace the lid.  Plan to taste something fantastic in the morning.
  4. Sleep well.

About thesolitarycook

I'm a chef, a cook, a teacher, a reader, a writer, a bike-rider, a dog- and cat-woman
This entry was posted in Entrées, Meats, RECIPES, Sandwiches, Side Dishes, STORIES and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. I hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day meal, and relaxing fun weekend. We’re in Maui eating lots of tropical fruit, which feels so unMemorial Day-ish 🙂

  2. ldpw says:

    Pulled pork and baked beans are some of my favorite summertime foods and, of course, your spin on it is brilliant.

  3. Emily says:

    Cyn, I really enjoyed this post and the stories included. Everything sounds marvelous, I feel certain your children know just how lucky they are to have you for their Mom, and Malary as whatever you are to her. 🙂 MIL/etc…. xo

    • I hope I will be her mother-in-law! The son plans to propose this summer….. You’re so kind as always, but I feel like the lucky one to have and know and love all these wonderful young people.

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