Recipe courtesy Tony Padgett
FOR MORE, SEE BLUE-RIBBON BAKED BEANS RECIPES.
• 2 pounds mixed dried beans (lima beans, soldier beans, cranberry beans)
• 6 ounces salt pork, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 1 ham hock, optional
• 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
• 1-1/4 cups dark maple syrup
• 1 large onion, quartered
• 1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt
• 1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
• 1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
• 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1. Rinse and drain beans, and place in large bowl or stockpot. Add enough water to cover beans by 3 inches. Soak for 10 to 12 hours, or overnight, adding water as needed. Drain well.
2. Place beans in 5-quart bean pot or Dutch oven, and add enough water to cover by about 2 inches. Bring to boiling over high heat; reduce heat and simmer for 45 to 60 minutes, skimming foam from surface. Add water as needed. Beans are done when skins crack when you blow on them. Remove from heat and drain.
3. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
4. Fill medium stockpot halfway with water and bring to simmer. Add drained beans. Add salt pork, ham hock, molasses, syrup, and onion. Stir in salt, ginger, mustard, pepper, and thyme. Mix well. Add enough hot water to cover beans by 1 inch.
5. Cover pot, and transfer to oven. Bake for 4-1/2 to 6 hours, or until beans are soft. Check regularly, adding water as needed so beans aren’t dry. Beans should be tender, but not soupy or mushy. Cool slightly before serving.
6. To make using a bean hole: While beans soak, dig a hole in the ground 2 to 3 feet deep and 2 to 3 feet wide, large enough to allow 6 inches of space on all sides and above pot. Line bottom of hole with fist-sized smooth stones. Build a fire inside hole with hardwood. Maintain fire until hole is 3/4 filled with coals. Prepare beans for baking, then remove 1/3 hot coals and set aside. Remove any unburned wood chunks. Place pot in hole. Cover with several sheets of aluminum foil, followed by removed coals. Cover with soil, and lightly tamp down. Cover with tarp or sheet of metal. Allow to bake overnight.