An authentic recipe for old-fashioned beanhole beans from NH’s logging-camp days, adapted for the home oven.
By Yankee Magazine
Aug 25 2022
Tom’s beans, inspired by North Woods recipes, call for plenty of seasoning and maple syrup.Photo Credit : Matt Kalinowski
Beanhole beans, or beans-in-the-ground, are Tom Curren’s specialty: 25 pounds of beans baked the way they were in the logging camps of the Great North Woods, where they had no ovens. Here’s a scaled-down version of Tom’s recipe for beanhole beans, adapted for your home oven. This recipe still makes a generous amount, but the beans freeze beautifully.
LEARN MORE:Tom Curren | Best Cook
2 pounds dried beans, preferably local
6 ounces salt pork, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 ham hock (optional)
1-1/4 cups dark (Grade B) maple syrup
1 large onion, quartered
1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt
1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
The night before you cook the beans, give them a rinse and put them in a large bowl with enough water to cover by 3 inches. Soak them 10 to 12 hours; add more water as needed toward the end of soaking. When the beans are done soaking, drain well.
Put the beans in a 4- to 5-quart pot with enough water to cover by 1 to 2 inches. Set over high heat and bring to a boil; then reduce the heat to a low simmer and skim the foam off the surface. Simmer the beans gently, adding water as needed, until the skins crack when you blow on them, 45 to 60 minutes.
When the beans are done, remove from the heat and drain. Preheat your oven to 250° and bring a medium-size pot of water to a simmer. Return the beans to the 4- to 5-quart pot and add the salt pork, ham hock (if using), maple syrup, and onion. Stir; then add the salt, ginger, mustard, pepper, and thyme, and stir. Add enough hot water to cover the beans by 1 inch.
Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Bake until the beans are soft and sweet, 4½ to 6 hours total, checking regularly and adding water as needed to keep the beans from getting dry. The finished beans should be tender, not mushy or soupy.