Bean-Hole Baked Beans
Here’s an authentic Maine recipe for baked beans, in which we buried a pot of beans in a “bean-hole” among hot coals, and allowed them to bake in the ground overnight. This was the first time we’ve ever tried making them, and we were very pleasantly surprised at how easy it was, and how good they came out. Brett’s parents came up from NY State to visit for the weekend, so they had a chance to taste the bean-hole-y goodness, also.
We dug a hole (away from the house and other combustibles) about 2 1/2 feet deep, and about 3 feet across. We then lined the bottom and about halfway up the sides of the hole with stones. The size of the hole depends, obviously, on the size of the bean pot you plan to use. Just make sure there’s enough room for the bean pot to fit comfortably in the hole, along with a good bed of hot coals. We used a cast iron 5-quart Dutch Oven, which held 2 pounds of beans.
The Bean Recipe
2 pounds of beans (We used Jacob’s Cattle beans for this one. Soldier, Great Northern, Navy, and Yellow Eye all work real well, also)
3 Tbsp. Minced onion
2 Tbsp. dry mustard
1 1/4 cup molasses
Enough boiling water to cover the beans.
Preparation & Cooking
Soak the beans in water for 8 hours, or overnight.
Build a wood fire in the bean hole, letting it burn until the bottom of the bean hole is covered with a bed of hot coals. Should take about 2 hours. (Optional: Add some charcoal briquettes if you’d like to “help it along.”)
Combine the beans with the other ingredients in a large cast-iron pot or Dutch Oven, and add enough boiling water to cover. (We also covered the top of the pot with foil, to keep any dirt from spilling in during the process.)
When the bottom of the bean hole is sufficiently full of hot coals, shovel some of the coals out of the hole, and reserve in a (metal) wheelbarrow. Nestle the bean pot in the bean hole among the remaining coals, and pull the coals around the sides. Dump the reserved coals from the wheelbarrow over the top of the bean pot, then cover with dirt, and allow to cook overnight.
The heated rocks and hot coals will allow the beans to cook slowly in the ground, and covering everything with dirt will help the beans to retain moisture during cooking.
And that’s it! Next morning, uncover, and take the bean pot out of the hole.
Enjoy! If you decide to try ’em, we’d love to hear how they came out!
As always, comments and questions are welcome below, or by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prepare the beans as above, and bake in a conventional oven for 6 hours at 350 degrees. During oven baking, some evaporation may occur, so periodically add enough water to keep beans covered.