Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Acadian Baked Beans

In Clare District, Nova Scotia, the people are mostly Acadians and they have a number of dishes that are distinctly theirs. At the heart of their cooking lies their main seasoning; salted onions. Salted onions are very finely cut shallots preserved in pickling salt. The salt they usually use is the same as the fishing industry, but pickling salt works well, and it's available in the supermarket.

The Acadians use salted onions for seasoning everything, but primarily chicken fricot and rappie pie. Chicken fricot is a clear chicken broth with chunks of chicken and potato dumplings. Rappie pie, or rapure is a complicated dish created out of finely grated potatoes from which the water has been squeezed. On cooking, the potato water is replaced with very strongly flavoured and boiling hot meat or shellfish broth. In addition mounds of browned onions, meat or fish and salted onions and butter are added, then the whole pie is baked. The superb broths and the salted onions lend strong delicious flavour to both chicken fricot or rappie pie, but my favourite Acadian dish is baked beans.

Baked Beans Acadian Style

1.5 lbs kidney beans
1 medium onion
3/4 lb salt pork
2 tablespoons of white sugar
1 tablespoon of dry mustard
3 tablespoons of molasses
salt & pepper to taste

wash the kidney beans in cold water
keep whole beans only
boil until the beans rise to the top of the pot and start to swell
rinse the beans in cold water again
Cube salt pork at one inch/2 centimetres and wash off excess salt

The amount of salt in your salt pork will determine the amount of salt you add and I can't help you there. It is safest to add just a touch of salt, then check later and season to taste once the salt pork has cooked and spread its flavour throughout the beans.

layer your crock pot or slow cooker with

salt pork
whole onion

add water to cover the beans by one centimetre or half an inch
bring to a boil on high heat, then lower to low and cook for six to seven hours. Don't overcook the beans! Add water if needed.

Some folks will take this recipe and add way too much molasses. Don't do that. If you'd like more of a molasses taste, substitute the white sugar with brown.

I think I prefer baked beans at breakfast above beans at other meals. When beans are baked for breakfast the night time has that delicious cooking aroma of baked beans and it flavours your dreams and gets you up early in the morning with an appetite. Supposedly the addition of dry mustard in this recipe makes the beans much less gassy. It has never worked for me. I'd suggest you stand upwind.


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