Baked Beans with Grouse

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SERVES 6 - 8

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This recipe stems from the idea of giving everyone at the table a taste of grouse by adding a bird to a pot of baked beans. The recipe for the baked beans themselves is based on one in Saltwater Seasonings by Sarah Leah Chase and Jonathan Chase (Little, Brown and Company, 1992).

2 lbs. dried cranberry, jacob's cattle,
or great northern beans, soaked overnight,
then drained
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup dark molasses
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp. dry mustard
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 3/4-lb. piece salt pork, scored
1 dressed ruffed grouse, halved, or 1 Scottish
(red) grouse

1. Preheat oven to 250°. Put beans into a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, skimming foam that rises to the surface. Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Drain beans and transfer to a large cast-iron or other heavy ovenproof pot with a tight-fitting lid.

2. Add onions, molasses, sugar, mustard, ginger, and salt to pot with beans and stir well. Embed salt pork in center of beans and add enough boiling water to just cover beans. Cover pot and bake beans for 1 hour. Tuck grouse into beans, add enough boiling water to just cover beans, cover pot, and bake for 1 hour. Uncover pot, gently stir beans, and add more boiling water to pot to just cover beans, if necessary. Continue to bake beans, uncovered, until a dark crust forms on surface and beans are soft, about 2 1/2 hours more.