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Grandmother's Blond Baked Beans

Patrick O'Connell of the Inn at Little Washington grew up eating these beans at family picnics. He was shocked when he learned the amount of sugar in them and thought it must be a mistake. "Think of them as caramelized baked beans," he says. "You'll be amazed at how deliciously old-timey they taste, either hot or at room temperature." The beans can be made days in advance, giving them time to mellow. Reheat them slowly with the brisket.

1 pound dried Great Northern beans
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup sugar
3 strips bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons butter

Place the beans in a 2-quart saucepan and cover with cool water. Soak overnight.

Drain the beans, cover with fresh salted water and cook over medium heat 2 hours or until just barely tender. Stir the sugar and bacon into the beans and place, along with the cooking water, in an oven-proof earthenware crock or bean pot. Top with the butter and bake, uncovered, in a preheated 300-degree oven for 5 or 6 hours, the first 2 or 3 hours uncovered.

Cooking time is elastic. Don't let the top layer of beans dry out. Check after two hours and periodically thereafter, adding water as needed and stirring.. If juices are not thickened or caramelized enough to suit you, turn up the heat to 325 degrees, cover and check after an hour. If too thick, add a little water. Makes about 6 cups. They disappear fast, so increase quantities to serve more than 8.

"The Inn at Little Washington Cookbook"

Thursday, July 01, 1999

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