Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Baked Beans, Meats, and Alaska

You may have noticed that our meals frequently involve three dishes. I'm not certain why this is so. It doesn't seem related to the amount of time or preparation involved - as you'll see in this post. Perhaps it is a minimum level of variety that feels "right"?

The origins of the ideas behind today's meal are quite different. Out of sheer concern for our nearly-full freezer, it was time to use some of the turkey and pork shoulder leftover from Christmas. A bit of ham also appeared ready for a second chance at the table, which had me thinking about a bean soup - a large bag of white beans in the pantry. Then the memory of a family favorite of my youth intruded. Finally, I relented to the request of the Junior Chef's to make good on my promise last fall to prepare a hot, sweet, and frosty treat.

Our menu: baked casserole of turkey and pork with applesauce, "New England" baked beans, and Baked Alaska.

The Method (Turkey and Pork Casserole)
Like many of you, we reach a point with holiday leftovers that demands action. Either we eat the remaining food with a burst of intense over three consecutive days of smorgesbord-ing, or we move the residuals to the freezer. I have several pounds of roasted pork shoulder (with garlic) and turkey that will demand attention in the coming weeks.

  • 2-3# roast turkey and/or pork, cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 1 C broth (use any type you'd like given how you approach the recipe)
  • 2 C chunky, homemade applesauce (Thanks, Papa!)
  • 1 C mozzarella cheese (honestly, I would have used Swiss but didn't have any in the fridge)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Place the meat in an oven-ready casserole. 
  3. Add the both. 
  4. If frozen, bring to a boil on the stove-top then proceed.
  5. Cover the meat and broth with the applesauce.
  6. Spread the cheese over the applesauce.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
The Method (New England Baked Beans)
Offering a recipe for a ubiquitously popular dish like baked beans is a risky undertaking. Family and regional differences create strong preferences for ingredients; the ease of store-bought varieties makes the time involved seem burdensome. Nevertheless, I will share this from Superfoods by Delores Riccio, which contains a trove of excellent, ingredient-focused dishes. I had two pounds of beans, so I doubled the recipe.

  • 2# dried white beans (Riccio calls for yellow-eye beans)
  • 2 large onions, halved and separated
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, ground
  • 2/3 C molasses
  • 2/3 C pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 C vegetable oil
  • 1/2 # cooked ham, diced (I added this)
  1. Soak the beans
    • either overnight in a gallon of cold water, or 
    • quickly by placing in cold water, bring to a boil for 2 minutes, turn off the heat and allow the beans to sit for one hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 300.
  3. Set a pot of water to boil (2-3 quarts should do)
  4. Drain the soaked beans.
  5. Place half of the onion pieces in the bottom of a heavy casserole.
  6. Cover with the beans and ham.
  7. Mix together the brown sugar, mustard, salt, and pepper.
  8. Add this to the beans.
  9. Pour over the molasses, maple syrup, and oil.
  10. Push the remaining onion sections into the beans.
  11. Add sufficient boiling water to cover the beans.
  12. Place the covered casserole in the oven.
  13. Bake for five hours, checking hourly to stir and ensure there is enough water. Add more water if the beans begin to dry out.
  14. After five hours, remove the lid and bake another hour until the beans are tender but not mushy. (Keep an watch on the liquid level at this stage.)
The Method (Baked Alaska)
Although I cannot point to its source, I had a long-held but mistaken notion that this was a complicated (or at least, risky) dish. When I realized that one needs only ice cream, sponge cake, and egg whites to make it, I agreed to give it a shot. We did need to make the sponge cake, which I won't review here. You can buy angel food or sponge cake, make it yourself, or use a substitute of some sort - maybe slices of leftover banana bread? This recipe is taken from the Joy of Cooking.

  • cake, to cut into slices (Junior Chef #1 made a sponge cake)
  • 6 egg whites (room temperature)
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 C superfine sugar (I used powdered sugar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 quarts of ice cream (slightly softened to allow for scooping and shaping)
  1. Preheat the broiler to high.
  2. Make a meringue by beating the egg whites until frothy.
  3. Add the cream of tartar and salt. Continue beating until the egg whites are almost stiff.
  4. Beat in the sugar one TB at a time.
  5. Beat in the vanilla.
  6. When the meringue is stiff, quickly place the ice cream into an oven-ready dish (I used a pie tin)
  7. Shape the ice cream into an oval mound.
  8. Cover the ice cream with strips or slices of cake.
  9. Cover the entire surface with meringue.
  10. Place the dish under the broiler - watching carefully!
  11. Broil until browned (about 3 minutes).
The Results
The casserole turned out very well. That's a simple, delicious keeper! Baked beans - love in a pot. And the Baked Alaska - what fun!

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Chris said...

Welcome to the Foodie Blogroll!

As an avid fan of BBQ, I love your baked beans recipe. The maple syrup is a bit different and I like that.

Anonymous said...

Baked beans are a favorite of mine too! going to try this recipe this week. Thanx

Kudya Bwino Bwino (Eating Well) © 2009