A Christmas Tradition Gus' Boston Baked Beans

In our house we have a tradition that we serve Gus’ Boston Baked Beans for dinner on the day that we decorate our Christmas tree.  This has been a family tradition for the past 30 years.  The recipe is one my friend Jane shared with me.  She got it from a roommate at University whose Grandmother made these in Quebec.  I like it because the recipe is named for Gus (my husband)  and he is the one who always makes this recipe for our Christmas tradition.
Gus'  Boston Baked Beans

If you have ever wondered why Boston Baked Beans are called Boston Baked Beans it is because of the molasses.  In the 1700’s and early 1800’s Boston was a trade centre for rum, molasses and cane sugar from the Caribbean.  As molasses was cheap it was readily available in Boston and used to sweeten baked beans. Then the name stuck.


§  2 to 2 1/4 cups dry white beans such as Navy beans or Great Northern beans
§  1/3 cup molasses
§  1/3 cup brown sugar
§  3-4 Tbsp Dijon mustard
§  1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
§  3 cups hot water
§  1/2 pound salt pork, cut into 1/2-inch to 1-inch pieces
§  1 medium onion, (1 1/2 cups) chopped

1 Place beans in a large pot and cover with 2 inches of water. Soak overnight and drain. Or, bring a pot with the beans covered with 2 inches of water to a boil, remove from heat and let soak for a hour, then drain.
2 Mix the molasses, brown sugar, mustard, and ground cloves with 3 cups of hot water.
3 Line the bottom of a slow-cooker (or a Dutch oven if you are cooking in the oven) with half of the salt pork (pick the fattiest pieces). Layer over with half of the drained beans. Add all of the onions in a layer, then top with another layer of beans and the remaining salt pork. Pour the molasses water mixture over the beans to just cover the beans.
4 Cover and cook in a slow-cooker on the low setting for 8 hours (or in a 250°F oven), until the beans are tender. Check the water level a few hours in, and if the beans need more water, add some. Add additional salt to taste if needed.  In our house we like them with no salt added.  Note that fresher beans will cook faster than older beans. Your beans may be ready in less than 8 hours, or they may take longer.
Boston Beans are  best the next day. In our house we serve the beans with whole wheat bread.  Leftover beans freeze well and make great lunches.