My thoughts go out to all those drastically affected by Hurricane Irene – she sure was large and left a path of destruction. We were lucky enough in the Boston area to retain power the whole time. Therefore I spent hours watching storm coverage on two channels at once. ( A habit I inherited from my dad who prided himself on watching three programs at once!)
Storms always mean “big cooking” days in my house and I decided on homemade baked beans. I could have pulled out my reasonable-sized crock-pot and gone with the hands-free approach. I did that last time. But since there was danger of losing power in this storm, I decided to pull out the big cast iron pot and use the oven method. That way if we lost power while it was in the oven, I could just keep the door shut and let it finish cooking with the residual heat! Now that is some plan-ahead stuff right there! (Insert pat on back here.)But of course when you use a big cast iron pot you feel compelled to fill it. Certainly leftovers and some for the freezer is always a great idea!
Turns out the big cast iron pot is REALLY big. I used my 30 cm “round french oven” and guess what…
IT HOLDS 8.4 LITERS!
Which is just over 35 CUPS to you and me!
(that is 2.2 gallons – just to put it in perspective!)
So clearly I needed to share. I promptly filled a big dish and brought it over to my neighbor Joanie and family. She is turning out to a be a regular taste-tester for me. Thanks neighbor!
As always I started with an improvised base. 1 small onion diced, 1 large sweet red bell pepper diced, 3 spicy Italian sausages removed from their casing and crumbled, 1 tablespoon dried Epazote herb, some chopped fresh basil and sage from the garden. Salt and pepper. After sweating this out a bit , turn off the burner and add two small cans of tomato paste and 6 cups (measured dry, before the soaking overnight) of soldier beans. Add 1/4 cup yellow mustard, 1/2 cup dark molasses, 1/2 cup dark brown sugar and water just barely to the level of the beans. Stir and place covered in a preheated 350 degree oven. Turn the oven down to 250 degrees and set the timer for an hour. Check and stir the beans every hour. Add additional water if they seem dry. After 2 hours taste and adjust for salt and pepper. After 2 more hours, remove the cover. At this point the beans are ready when the water has turned to a nice thick sauce and the beans are tender. Stir before serving.
Nothing is better with carbs than even more carbs with salty meat and cheese. I added a small amount of tiny, diced, sharp cheddar cheese and tiny, diced bits of hard salami to the small blue package of “buttermilk biscuits” and prepared them according to package directions.