This is from my Facebook for the beginning of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday. It was originally written on October 27, 2015.
It’s Tuesday, and that means it is another date with Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday. Tonight we add Massachusetts as the 6th state, ratifying the constitution on February 6th, 1788.
When people think of Massachusetts, many immediately go to thoughts of chowda’s and lobsta. But these seemed too simple to me, so I went searching for something a little more challenging, and maybe even more unique to the state itself, and not just New England.
So I focused on two areas of the state; Boston and Cape Cod. And what I found was that Boston is really the home of Boston Baked Beans, and anyone who lives there swears that they don’t eat it. But lots of classic restaurants do make it and serve it, and since I have never tried to make baked beans, I figured it was worth a try. I also found that Cape Cod is actually about the fish; cod that is. But I didn’t want to just make fish, so I searched and found a really interesting twist in Poor Man’s Lobster. Yes, a recipe that claimed to make cod taste like a shellfish.
So two recipes this week.
First the Boston Baked Beans. These take a lot of work. All day actually. You cook the beans on the stovetop, then mix them with molasses, brown sugar, ketchup and other things, and bake them for hours. The result is a thick, creamy, absolutely delicious dish, worth every minute I spent on it today. This one gets an A+ and I will make it again, probably in a double batch!
Second is Poor Man’s Lobster. I was truly skeptical about this one. I mean, how can a fish end up tasting like lobster. But it works. At least it mostly works. The method of boiling the cod (which must be frozen to work) with the sugar/salt brine definitely gives the fish the sweetness of lobster, and then broiling it with butter creates the right texture. I found that the thinner parts of the filet tasted more like lobster, which leads me to think that a slower poach, or even a full blown brining might infuse more of the sugar/salt taste. It was good and worth experimenting with it to see if I could make it better. I give this one an A- with the possibility of improving.
And finally, because we are in Massachusetts this week, we must have a Cape Cod. Yes, a good old vodka and cranberry is actually called a Cape Cod. A very tasty, simple drink. And I will make that again!
Boston Baked Beans:
1 pound dried small white beans, such as Great Northern or Navy beans
6 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons dried mustard
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried ginger
Dash of hot sauce or cayenne, to taste
4 slices bacon
- Rinse the beans. Fill a large pot with water and heat. When the water boils, add the beans, and turn off the burner. Let the beans soak for an hour.
2. Drain out the water, refill the pot with water to cover the beans by at least 3″, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook the beans just until they’re tender. This takes from about 1 to 2 hours, depending on the type and age of your beans.
3. As the beans simmer, dice the onion and garlic. Put them into a large baking dish.
4. Add all other ingredients except for the bacon to the baking dish. MixThe mixture will be thick.
5. Preheat the oven to 300°.
6. As soon as the beans are tender, remove them from the stove. Scoop out a cup of the cooking water and add it to the mixture in the baking dish to thin it. Pour the remaining cooking water into a bowl and set it aside.
7. Add the beans to the mixture in the baking dish, and gently mix together. Be careful not to crush the beans. The resulting mixture should look slightly soupy and pale.
8. Cover the dish and put it into the oven to bake. Check the beans every hour to make sure that they’re not getting too dry. If they are, add more of the reserved bean cooking liquid, and stir to mix in. The beans will slowly turn brown.
9. After about 3 hours, remove the cover from the baking dish. Check the liquid level again. It should still look slightly soupy. Continue baking uncovered. This will cause the liquid to begin to evaporate, so check the level of liquid (it will now be a thick sauce) every 15 – 20 minutes. Be sure that the beans don’t get too dry, because they continue to absorb moisture even after they’re done. Keep adding the reserved liquid as necessary. If you run out, use water.
10. After cooking for about 1 more hour (about 4 hours in total), the beans will be a rich mahogany brown. The molasses and sugar will begin to caramelize. This is when the real alchemy in this Boston baked beans recipe occurs – simple white navy beans are transformed into a rich, delectable dish full of flavor.
Poor Man’s Lobster:
• 6 (6 oz. cod fillets)
• 6 cups water
• 1 cup white sugar
• 2 tablespoons salt
• Melted butter (to brush fillets and for dipping)
• 1/2 lemon
• Paprika and lemon-pepper seasoning to taste
• Preheat your broiler.
• Wrap a broiler pan with aluminum foil (easier clean up) and spray with nonstick spray. Make sure you shape the aluminum foil to the grooves on your broiler pan so the excess liquid has somewhere to go and your fish doesn’t have to sit in it.
• Mix together the water, sugar, and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a light boil. Add the fish. The water-mixture should fully cover the fish, if it doesn’t add more water. Bring back to a boil over a medium-high heat. Boil for 3 to 5 minutes depending on the thickness of the cod fillet.
• Transfer the fillets to the broiler pan, brush with melted butter, and season with lemon-pepper and paprika. Squeeze some lemon juice over the top.
• Broil for about 5-7 minutes on low or until the fillets are opaque and flake with a fork. Serve with melted butter.