Little did I know that there were those working behind the scenes to thwart the achievement of my goal. This occurred to me when I began the two-day process and Dirtman asked, "What are you going to do this time?"
"Part brown sugar, part maple syrup. And I used bacon rather than smoked pork."
"No green peppers?" he asked innocently.
Green peppers? What kind of brain dead mutant puts green peppers in baked beans?
"You know -- like at Red, Hot, and Blue," he continued.
Then I realized the horrible reality: we both had a different concept of what constitutes perfect baked beans. My version was decidedly -- Yankee -- and his version was decidedly -- not.
It was my argument, as the one doing the cooking, that unless one is willing to babysit a pot of beans for two days to achieve one's goal, one should accept the beans put in front of one. It was Dirtman's argument that perhaps if one is so adamant against a particular flavoring heretofore alien to one, one is incapable of achieving such a refined taste and is, therefore, masking said incompetence with feigned distaste. Yeah. Well...
At least I'm doing my beans first.
So today I began my version which I have given the name Beans of Northern Aggression.
Now let's set some parameters here. If you have a bean recipe and it mentions anything about opening a can -- this is not a real baked bean recipe; it is assembly instructions. If your recipe calls for opening a can of beans already flavored with something, I don't care what you are shaking into it, it's not cooking, it's heating something up.
We're talking serious bean commitment here, where you are responsible for not only the flavor, but the ultimate consistency of your bean.
Secondly, and this is still being debated, it's not a baked bean if not baked in a bean pot. Don't have a bean pot? Then you probably live south of Maryland and YOU HAVEN'T BEEN MAKING BAKED BEANS. This goes along with a theory I have about southern cooks, that no one will admit to and I don't expect that to change now, but here goes: Southern cooks only cook seriously for other people which usually manifests itself as pot luck suppers. Otherwise they throw cheese sandwiches and Spam at their family. I've seen mostly throw-away aluminum foil baking dishes and two-quart casserole dishes in Southern kitchens; so I know you all don't have a bean pot so I don't even think Dirtman can call his version baked beans.
But, knowing that the Beans of Northern Aggression are so far superior, I will, when making Dirtman's version, allow the use of my traditional bean pot, if only to save the environment from yet another dose of crusty aluminum. Your welcome.
Right now, as we ... er ... read ... the Beans of Northern Aggression are rolling lazily in their silky bath of a smokey maple slip, cuddling against a blanket of bacon, all cradled in my vintage blue tulip bean pot in a barely hot oven where it will spend the afternoon and evening with regular ladles of warmth poured over it.
But tomorrow those beans are going to kick ass.*
*Heeeee...kind of works a few levels....
And now a word about my oven:
No self-respecting cook would have an oven this clean. This is the oven of someone who heats up frozen pizza -- in the microwave. But I finally had to break down and clean the ovens because one of them set off the smoke alarm, which results in an evening a chaos when you have dogs. Have no fear -- by Monday it will look well-used.