Our Memorial Day Welcome Home picnic was a great success! I was so wonderful to see everyone and go into food comas as a family. I got many compliments, so I will post the recipes I used for posterity.
This recipe takes long, slow cooking and and some planning in advance, but it's definitely worth it.
1 lb. dry navy beans, soaked overnight
5-7 strips bacon, sliced thin
1 ham hock
1 onion, diced
2 T. tomato or red pepper paste
3/4 c. regular molasses
1/5 c. dark brown sugar
2 T. dijon mustard
2 T. ketchup
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. thyme
several grinds of black pepper
salt (add after cooking)
Preheat your oven to 300.
In a heavy pot, cook the bacon pieces over medium-low until the fat renders and they just start to crisp. Add the onion and cook until it softens. Stir in the tomato or pepper paste until there are no lumps remaining.
Add the beans and cover with 1" water. Stir in the molasses, sugar, and remaining seasonings. Add the ham hock and bring to a boil.
Cover and place in the oven for 2 hrs. Stir and bake for one more hour. Test the beans for done-ness and if they're mostly ready, then either remove the lid and return the oven at 325 or place it on the stovetop and continue cooking until the desired amount of liquid has evaporated. If they need more time, bake longer.
Adjust the salt and seasonings at the end. I do this by adding molasses, mustard, salt, or vinegar as needed.