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It’s hard to imagine a potluck, backyard barbecue or any summer cookout without a big roasting pan of baked beans. This recipe, which appeared in this magazine in July 1955, shows that the old-world combination of sweet add-ins (molasses, brown sugar and ketchup), salty pork fat and beans is pretty timeless. Feel free to double this recipe (you’ll need a large roasting pan) if you’re feeding a team or want leftovers. Regardless, consider the contributor’s suggestion for a quick lunch: Spread leftover beans on buttered bread, top with a slice of cheese, and broil until warm and bubbly.
2 1/2 cups navy beans
1 quart water
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/4 pound salt pork or bacon (cut into 1/2-inch slices)
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (or 1 teaspoon ground dry mustard)
2 tablespoons hot sauce
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
1. Rinse beans and place them in a large roasting pan or Dutch oven. Cover with water and soak overnight.
2. Drain beans, add 1 quart water and simmer over medium-low heat, covered, until skins are easily pierced (do not boil). Bury the onion, salt pork or bacon, and garlic in beans.
3. Stir together the molasses, brown sugar, ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, salt and ginger, then stir the mixture into the beans. Continue to simmer the beans, covered, until they’re very tender, about 2–2 1/2 hours, or bake them in a 250-degree oven.
For added flavor, add bay leaves (fresh or dried), 1 teaspoon ground coriander or 2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme or rosemary to the mix. Feel free to substitute Great Northern or cannellini beans for navy beans.