The following recipe is one I’ve prepared for many years. I use a combination of molasses and maple syrup, and the flavor is sublime. Here are a few keys to success: when you buy the beans, be sure to check the expiration date on the bag. You want to get the freshest beans because old beans will not get tender, no matter how long you cook them. The other key to perfect beans is to cook them in water until they are completely tender, but not mushy, before you bake them with the other ingredients. If the beans are still even a little bit hard, the sugar and salt will make them harder. Another tip is to make sure you check the beans while they are cooking, stirring them now and then and adding extra water to keep them moist.
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Soak the beans in water overnight in a large pot.
The next morning, bring the water and beans to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer until the beans are tender, about one hour.
Drain the beans, reserving the cooking water, and place the beans in a deep casserole dish or bean pot.
Add the remaining ingredients, cover the dish with a lid or foil, and bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 4-5 hours, or until the beans are soft and the sauce is thick. During the cooking time, remove the lid now and then to check on the moisture content. Add reserved bean water as needed to keep beans moist as sauce develops.
The cover can be left off completely the last hour or so, which will make the sauce darker and richer. Serve with Boston Brown Bread.