These are the authentic Boston baked beans, with the flavor bumped up. It is best to make this the day before or two days before as they taste much better as they sit and absorb the flavorful sauce. Be prepared to leave the house because the aroma will make you very hungry all day.
Boston Baked Beans
1 # dry pea beans or navy beans
1 Bay leaf
1 celery rib, halved
3 sprigs of flat-leaf parsley
1 sprig thyme
1/2 # salt pork
1 large slice baked ham
1 cup c molasses, black strap preferred
1 T dry mustard
1 c ketchup
1 c dark brown sugar
1 T salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, chopped
1 c dry sherry
Soak the beans overnight in a very large pot with copious amounts of water and 3 T of Kosher salt. Drain the next morning. Replace into the pot, and cover generously with cold water (at least 2″ above the surface of the beans). Make a bundle of the celery, parsley, thyme and Bay leaf and secure with string, leaving a 6″ tail. Place in pot and tie the tail to the handle of a wooden spoon, which rests at an angle at the top of the pot. Simmer the beans gently for 30-60 minutes until tender but intact, and the skins blow off when blown upon lightly.
Drain beans, reserving the broth.
Meanwhile, chop the onion, and divide the salt pork into 2 pieces. Thinly slice one piece and deeply score the skin side of the second piece.
Preheat the oven to 300 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet heavily with foil.
In the bean pot or a large covered casserole, layer half of the beans and half of the diced ham and all of the sliced salt pork. Gently pour the remaining half of the beans and add the remaining half of the diced ham and the scored chunk of salt pork.
Mix together 8 c of the bean broth (we had 5 c and this was plenty) with the molasses, brown sugar, dry mustard, ketchup, salt and pepper and chopped onions. Mix well and pour this gently over the beans.
Cover the beans and bake 7-8 hours. An hour before they are done, meaning the beans have achieved a dark brown hue like good polished walnut, add the sherry. Cover the pot again and bake one more hour.