Boston Baked Beans – Spotlight

The Film:

spotlight poster

The Dish:


The Reason:

This is a meal worthy of a plucky team of investigative team of reporters. For one, it honours a sense of place. With its twang of blackstrap molasses, Boston Baked Beans are an edible institution. For two, it’s thrifty, making the most of meager resources.  For three, it’s  placating – something that might be helpful when you’re on your way to uncovering the greatest scandal to smear the Catholic Church. These beans on their own make for a steadying breakfast (or late night snack), but add a five minute egg to the top with a yolk to plunder and you have your very own spotlight to shine across a murky mass. The slivered sage on top is optional but  provides a nice herbal pun on the importance of wisdom-just in case you’re not quite as switched on as our protagonists.

The Way:

Boston Baked Beans


Serves 6. Nb, this is quite rich, so it can be nice to fold through some shredded kale for green relief just prior to serving.


IMG_2909450g dried Great Northern Beans or Cannellini  Beans
250 g bacon, cut into lardon
1 brown onion, finely diced
4 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup molasses
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 cups/750 ml water
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 x 400 g tin of chopped tomatoes
4 sage leaves, two kept whole and two cut into slim ribbons
salt to taste
6 eggs


1) Rinse and drain the beans, picking through to remove any stones.

2) Cover the beans with cold water and soak the beans for three hours.

IMG_29103) Add the diced bacon and diced onion to the bottom of a large heavy bottomed pan and sautee over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, until the bacon has rendered its fat and the onion has softened.

IMG_2912 4) Drain and rinse the soaked, plumped beans and add them and the remaining ingredients to the bacon and onions.

IMG_29155) Add two whole sage leaves to the pot and stir to combine and bring the contents of the pan to a boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer and clamp on the lid. Cook for three hours, stirring occasionally and checking that there is sufficient liquid in the pot to prevent anything from scorching.

6) After three hours the beans should be cooked through and most of the liquid absorbed. If there is additional liquid, cook with the lid off until there is a viscous sauce to coat the beans. Season with salt to taste.

IMG_29307) To serve, cook six five minute eggs. To cook the eggs bring a pot of water up to the boil and add 1 tbsp bicarb soda. Gently transfer the eggs into the boiling water (trying very hard not to let them crack on the bottom of the pot) and boil for five minutes. After five minutes drain and run cold water over them until you can handle them. Gently crack the eggs and remove the shells (the bi carb will help the shell to shirk away from the egg). Nestle the eggs in a bowl with the beans and top with slivers of sage. Allow guests to puncture their own egg and create a spotlight of yolk in the dark mass of beans.


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