Bangor Baked Beans and Brown Bread

Not fast food!

This is a recipe for Maine style baked beans and brown bread (the Bangor is just for alliteration), a little different from the famous Boston dish. The beans are kidney, not pea, and onions and ketchup are added to the seasonings. The brown bread is made with prunes, not raisins. Both are easy to make, and go very well together. For dinner at the usual time, you must begin cooking around noon, but not much attention is required at any time.

Soak two cups of red kidney beans in water overnight. Put the soaked beans in a covered casserole or actual bean pot, reserving the liquid. Chop up a small onion and mix with the beans. Cut up a quarter pound or so of lean salt pork into small cubes, discarding any tough skin that may line one side, and put with the beans and onion. To the liquid, add 5 tablespoons of dark brown sugar, 4 tablespoons of good unsulphured molasses, half a cup of ketchup, two teaspoons of mustard powder, and a teaspoon of salt. Mix thoroughly and pour over the beans. Cover the pot and place in a 300°F (slow) oven. Forget about it for six hours, except for checking to see that there is still enough liquid as time goes on. It can dry out a bit at the end, so that the sauce is thick. If the beans are too sweet for your taste, omit the brown sugar and add another tablespoon of molasses.

After about three and a half hours, mix 1/2 cup white flour, 1/2 cup corn meal, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, half a teaspooon of salt, and a teaspoon of baking soda (not baking powder) in a large bowl. Sour a cup of milk by adding a teaspoon of white vinegar to it, and allowing it to sit for about half an hour at room temperature. Add the soured milk to the flour mixture, stir, and then add a generous third of a cup of molasses (the same kind used for the beans) and mix thoroughly. Cut up 2/3 of a cup of dried prunes (the soft kind that come in a foil envelope) and add to the batter. Raisins can be added if you do not have prunes. Butter the top of a double boiler generously, and pour in the mixture. Cover, and put over gently boiling water for two hours. I use a stainless bowl that fits into a 2-qt saucepan, not an actual double boiler. This, also, requires no attention until it is done.

Turn out the brown bread on a cutting board, and slice it with a bread knife. My brown bread is firm enough for this to be easy, and there are no soft spots. Serve with butter. Spoon out the beans into bowls, and dinner is served! This is very different from the usual baked beans, and is a very tasty and satisfying meal. This recipe will serve four.

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Composed by J. B. Calvert
Created 15 September 2002
Last revised 19 September 2002