Logging Camp Pork and Beans

A recipe for logging camp pork and beans may be a contradiction in terms—it was the kind of dish that was made from what was on hand at the time, and varied from camp to camp. The cook and his devil (as an assistant was then called), mixed the ingredients in the proportions they judged best. In the nineteenth century, it was economical and could be prepared from non-perishable food that was mass produced and easily transported. The recipe tended to evolve over the years. Early on, the bread was often sourdough, or might use cream of tartar as a leavening agent. In later years, it was yeast bread, similar to what might be baked in a farmhouse kitchen. Maple syrup was the most common nineteenth century sweetener—in the twentieth century tomato sauce became common. As old men, many shantymen were nostalgic for the taste of beans baked in sand, especially the bread, which was imparted a unique flavour from having been baked in the sand with beans. It tended to be moister than common homemade bread, from having been baked in a dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 lbs dried white beans (or substitute 2 lbs canned white beans)
  • 1/2 lb long clear salt pork (bacon is a modern substitute)
  • Maple syrup to taste as a sweetener
  • 1 ½ cups lukewarm water
  • 4 teaspoons yeast
  • 3 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 3 ¾ cup flour

Directions

  • Soak beans for at least 8 hours in water.
  • Boil beans in water for 2-3 hours.
  • As beans are boiling, add yeast and maple syrup to water and allow to stand 10 minutes.
  • Add flour, and knead into a ball.
  • Allow to rise 1 hour.
  • Drain beans and sweeten to taste with maple syrup.
  • Put beans into a (cast-iron) pot, alternating layers of beans with salt pork/bacon.
  • Knead dough into a ball and spread over the beans, sealing the top of the pot.
  • Allow to rise ½ hour.
  • Put lid on pot and bury in sand, about a 15-inch-deep hole, lined with live hardwood coals and hot sand.
  • Cover the lid with hot sand and coals as it is buried.
  • Leave overnight, and the beans will be ready for breakfast.
  • If authenticity is desired, serve with chewing tobacco and green tea.

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