Fireplace Beans for Thanksgiving–warm tummy, toasty toes…

A simple sack of dried beans, a bottle of beer, a warm fire (or oven) and a good  night’s sleep are the recipe for classic New England comfort food.  The idea of cooking and baking in the fireplace has always seemed so inviting to me.  One hundred and fifty years ago, in the agricultural center that was Arlington, MA, I imagine an exhausted farmer’s wife tending the kitchen fire, soaking the beans saved and dried from the summer.  She could not even dream of something so magical as my restaurant style range and convention oven and yet her I was at least for a moment wanting to take her place. 

I will save details of fireplace cooking for another post, but you can also easily do this recipe in the oven overnight and either way it is a wonderful taste of another time.  You can use traditional white navy beans or many other types.  I decided on some beautiful red beans we found at Christina’s in Cambridge.  I chose to make a vegetarian recipe which works better for some of my family but some pork would be a lovely and traditional addition.  I hope you will enjoy the recipe below!

Fireplace Beans
1 pound White or Red Beans
1  quart Vegetable Stock
1/2 large Onion-sliced
1 bottle Lager Beer
4 oz Tomato Paste
1/4 cup Buckwheat Honey
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
2 Tbs Brown Mustard
1 Tbs Cider Vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste

Soak beans overnight or boil for 10 minutes and soak for one hour.  Discard water.  Simmer beans in vegetable stock and onion for about two hours or until tender.  Drain beans and onions and reserve stock.  In a medium size cast iron dutch oven, mix the cooked beans with all remaining ingredients plus a cup and a half of the reserved stock.  Set the covered dutch oven on a cooking trivet or fire bricks over ash and coals in the corner of the fireplace or a place in the middle of a 225 degree oven.  Tend the fire as needed if cooking in fireplace.  Cook for about 8 hours, checking once or twice to make sure the mixture is not too dry.    If necessary, add a bit more of the cooking stock.  After 8 hours, remove the lid and sprinkle with a bit more brown sugar and cook for an additional hour.  Serve warm.  This recipe reheats very well and the flavor gets better the second day.







2 responses to “Fireplace Beans for Thanksgiving–warm tummy, toasty toes…

  1. that sounds delicious. I do mine in an oven since I don’t have a fireplace. And the super gets real snotty when I tried to build one on the porch. Can’t understand why.

    I generally leave out tomatoes. I use molasses. And cloves. About 7 hours in the oven after the pre-soak and all. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted buckwheat honey. How does it compare to the molasses, do you know?

  2. That’s a twist on my Boston Baked Beans. I’m going to try this one next time. Thank you. 🙂

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