Our Holiday Favorites: New England Baked Beans

Growing up, I was never much of a carnivore, but my family’s Christmas Day meal provided one important exception: prime rib. We’d buy it at Noel’s, a small town grocery with big time meat. Served in all its glory alongside its own juice and horseradish for a tangy bite, it’s the centerpiece of our table every year. Classics like mashed potatoes, bacon and molasses-enriched beans, and a salad of toasted pine nuts and gorgonzola round out the feast. Though our Christmas tradition isn’t bound by culture—no Feast of the Seven Fishes here—its meat-and-potatoes sensibility speaks to the bounty of New England, echoed by our Christmas Eve ritual of steamed lobsters and mussels. I didn’t always prefer this kind of simplicity, favoring ethnic cuisines and far-flung flavors. But my appreciation of simple has grown with that of the best place to find it: home.

—Audrey Morgan, digital director of Baked Magazine. Follow Audrey on Instagram @audreymorg.

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Baked Beans with Bacon and Molasses

The recipe for this simple Christmas side dish comes from my late Nana. Like the woman who made it, it’s sweet, a little salty, and wonderfully indulgent.

SERVES 12

Ingredients: 

  • 2 (28 oz.) cans baked beans
  • 1 (12 oz.) jar of dark molasses
  • ½ cup onion flakes
  • ½ lb. bacon (You’ll use about half the slices)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Drain beans and place in a bowl.
  3. Add molasses and onion flakes and mix thoroughly.
  4. Transfer bean mixture to a casserole dish and top with strips of bacon. Bake for 1 hour.
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