Country Kitchen: Traditional Saturday Night Supper in NE

Country Kitchen: Traditional Saturday Night Supper in NE

By Mary Emma Allen

Traditionally, a New EnglanderÂ’s Saturday night supper was incomplete unless a pot of baked beans and plate of Boston brown bread were set upon the table. Throughout the years, from the days when pioneers grew all their vegetables in backyard gardens, to the present, when the modern homemaker opens cans from the supermarket, baked beans have been the standby for Saturday night.

"ThatÂ’s our Saturday night suppers for the coming year," the old-timer would remark as he set the pails of freshly shucked dried beans under the pantry shelf.

In those days, salt pork or ham hock was the traditional accompanying meat for the meal. Today hot dogs or smoked link sausage often gives the meal its meat component.

Family Traditions

Both my husband and I have childhood memories of baked beans on Saturday night. My mom soaked the dried beans overnight, then began stewing them with a ham hock, thick slices of bacon, or salt pork.

We often had stewed beans for dinner (the mid-day meal on the farm), along with some meat and veggies. Then Mother baked the remainder in the oven of the wood stove all afternoon. She might include ham or a piece of salt pork.

JimÂ’s mom had Saturday night baked beans, too. By the time I knew them, Mum took the easier way out, using beans from the can along with boiled or fried hot dogs. She and Dad often went out Saturday night to the movies or bowling, so that was a quick supper for eight boys when they came in from milking the cows.

"Old-fashioned" or "modern" aptly describes the two methods of preparing this customary weekÂ’s end dish that accompanies brown bread, which also comes in a can today.

MODERN BAKED BEANS - Pour 3 to 4 cups canned baked beans into a bean pot or casserole. Add 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1 tablespoon molasses, 1 tablespoon catsup, 3 tablespoons minced onion; blend well. Place 6 hot dogs or smoked sausage links (either whole or cut up) on top of beans. Or crumble fried bacon on top and serve hot dogs or sausage separately. Bake 20 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees F. until heated through and bubbly.

QUICK BROWN BREAD is easily prepared by removing "store-bought" bread from a can, wrapping it in foil, and heating in the oven while the "modern" beans bake. You can unwrap for the last few minutes of heating for a crispier crust.

Serve with an APPLE CRISP DESSERT. Beat 1 egg and add 1/2 cup sugar. Stir in 1/2 cup flour sifted with 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add 1/3 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 cup apples, 1/4 cup broken nutmeats.

Bake in square cake pan or 9-inch pie pan, greased, about 30 minutes, at 350 degrees F. Serve plain or topped with whipped cream or ice cream.

(C) 2003 Mary Emma Allen

About the Author

Mary Emma Allen has been writing her "Cooking Column" for newspapers and online publications for 30 years and has compiled a family cookbook. SheÂ’s currently compiling a cookbook/story book, "Tales From a Country Kitchen." Visit her web site for more cooking articles. Contact her at

Click Here for The Country Kitchen Series Index


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