I made baked beans yesterday, and I thought I'd made enough for everyone to have a good helping and then we'd have enough for dinner for days.

I was wrong.  And I was really ok with being so wrong.  Because by the time we got done decimating the beans, there was one helping left.   One.  And this was a BIG pot of beans!

So, the beans:
A 1 lb package of navy beans, soaked overnight
1 large onion, diced
2 12 oz. packages of Hormel Salt Pork, with the rinds cut off and also diced.
1 cup of Grade B maple syrup
1/3 cup of packed brown sugar
1 tsp of dry mustard powder
a big pinch of ginger
a small pinch of salt

I drained the beans, and tossed them in a pot, then covered them with water.  I only simmered them for about 20 minutes, as I made these beans on the stovetop anyway.  Then I drained them again, and reserved the cooking liquid.

In my big, cast-iron dutch oven, I layered the beans, onion and salt pork.

In a bowl, I mixed the brown sugar, the mustard, the ginger, the salt, and then the maple syrup.  I mixed that with a bit of the cooking liquid to dissolve the sugar, and then poured it over the beans.  Then I covered the beans with most of the cooking liquid and saved the rest for later, when the water cooked off a bit.

And I simmered those things on my lowest setting on the stovetop for about five hours, mixing at least once an hour to keep the beans from sticking to the bottom.  (That was only marginally successful.)  At one point, I poured the rest of the cooking liquid in, and for the last half hour, I took the lid off to boil down the liquid a bit and thicken it up.

Oh, god, they were SO GOOD.  My son agitated at me from the time he came home until the time they were done and insisted on trying a bean and some of the sauce, and then later, stealing a few more from the pot while I was cooking them down.  They were still a little firm, but not crunchy, none of them.  The salt pork melted away into deliciousness on the tongue, they were sweet and tangy and with a tiny bit of a bite, and they were a little complex.  They made me REALLY happy.  And everyone else.

And then, later, I walked into a bedroom with a DISTINCT odor, from a man who really needs to have his intestines cleaned out with a bottle brush, (which the beans tried to do, I suppose.)  Ooof.  Still, it made for some funny moments.  And dinner was worth it.
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