Boston Baked Beans

Photographer: Adam
Serves 8

We’re pretty used to baked beans here in New Zealand – the canned, sweet and swimming in tomato sauce variety. So often served up on hot buttered toast as a weekend lunch after kids’ sports, or a quick weeknight dinner.

Boston baked beans are sweetened with molasses, and flavoured traditionally with Salt Pork, which is not commonly found here, so I used pancetta and pork belly instead which was delicious. Picking out the lovely soft bits of pork belly through the beans was like hunting for treasure!

Cook ‘em low and slow for maximum flavour and tender beans. These are great weekend grazing. If you don’t have an eight-person household (I’m down to one at the mo), then you can enjoy the benefits that come from flavours developed over several days.


450g dried navy beans
100g pancetta
300g pork belly, skin removed (keep the fat) and roughly chopped into 5cm cubes
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup molasses
2 tbsp brown sugar
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp English mustard powder
10 pickling onions, peeled and halved


1. Bring beans to the boil in a medium sized saucepan. Take off heat and let soak for 1 hour.
2. Bring back up to a simmer and cook until the skins burst.
3. Preheat oven to 150˚C on Bake
4. In a large oven-proof pan with a lid (a Dutch oven is great for this), brown pork belly, pancetta and garlic.
5. Add beans, molasses, brown sugar, spices and onions. Add cooking water from beans to cover (top up with extra hot water if required), and season with ground black pepper (no salt).
6. Bake for 4 – 6 hours, uncovered for the last ½ an hour.
Serve with bread or on toast.