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EDITOR'S NOTE: The following recipe was provided by Sandi Tucker for The Manning Times' bi-monthly column, Clarendon Cooks.
1 pound dried great Northern beans
6 cups water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
8 ounces bacon or salt pork(rind removed, cut into ½-inch cubes)
2 cups diced yellow onions
1Ttablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup maple syrup, divided
1/3 cup molasses
1 Tablespoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea or Kosher salt
2 - 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Soak the beans in a large Dutch oven or soup pot with the lid on in 6 cups of water overnight.
Add the baking soda to the beans and bring them to a boil over medium-high heat, keeping a close eye on it as it will bubble up and possibly spill over the sides. Skim off the scum/foam on top. Simmer 10 minutes. Drain and reserve the liquid. Add the beans to a 4 or 5 quart crock-pot.
Meanwhile, in a large frying pan cook the salt pork or bacon over medium heat until the fat is rendered and, if using bacon, not quite to the crispy stage. Drain on paper towels. Chop and add to the crock-pot.
Add the onion to the fat and cook 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and add to the slow cooker.
In a small mixing bowl whisk 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup, the molasses, mustard, ginger, cloves and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Add it to the crock-pot.
Add 2-1/2 cups of the reserved cooking liquid to the crock-pot - if you have less than that reserved use water to make up the difference.
Cook until soft and tender 4 - 6 hours on high or 8 - 10 hours on low. If there's a lot of liquid left take the lid off and cook for a half hour or so.
Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons maple syrup and vinegar - adding more to taste if you like tangier.
Season generously to taste with salt and pepper.