(4 side-dish servings)
This heritage bean, which was brought to America by Swedish immigrants, cooks up firm, with a texture like real Boston baked beans. I buy Lars’ Own brand at Ingebretsen’s; other specialty shops and some supermarkets also carry them. Although the taste and texture will be markedly different, you can substitute other beans such as navy or pink beans; these will cook more quickly than the brown beans, so check them after about 25 minutes and adjust total cooking time as necessary.
1 cup dry Swedish brown beans, sorted
3⁄4 teaspoon salt; more to taste
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup; more to taste
11⁄2 tablespoons cider vinegar; more to taste
In a soup pot, soak beans overnight in cold water to cover by at least 3 inches. When ready to cook, drain and rinse beans and return to pot. Add 3 cups cold water. Heat just to boiling, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour, skimming foam in the first 15 minutes.
Test a bean by biting it; it should still be firm, but should be tender enough to bite through. (Cook more if necessary to reach this stage.) Add salt. Place lid on pot, slightly ajar, and cook for 1 hour longer; check occasionally, and add a little more water if the liquid is much below the top of the beans.
Stir syrup into beans; replace cover so it is slightly ajar and cook for 30 to 45 minutes longer, until tender but not mushy. Stir in vinegar. Taste for seasoning and add more syrup, vinegar, or salt to taste.
Note: When I prepared this recently, I served pan-fried slices of Fischer Farms Canadian bacon (from Waseca, MN; available at Golden Fig and many co-ops) with the beans, along with braised Lacinato kale—delicious. You could also crumble some cooked bacon into the dish just before serving; some cooks would add half of a pear, diced, to the beans during the last 45 minutes of cooking.