In another post on this site I made fun of a recipe from the 1950’s that involved pouring flaming rum over sweetened canned baked beans topped with bacon. After that someone pointed out that I frequently add a little rum to my chili, and questioned whether I should pass judgment on someone else adding rum to a bean dish. I am willing to admit they have a point, but it still sounds awful to me because canned baked beans already contain some sugar and molasses, and that recipe involved adding still more molasses and then the flaming rum, which adds a sweet flavor. We’re way into dessert territory here. Still, if you have a sweet tooth you may want to try it.
I think there will be fewer defenders for this recipe, which is recounted in William Byrd’s “Histories of the Dividing Line Betwixt Virginia and North Carolina,” published 1829. It involved a chaplain who was traveling to the wilderness of inland North Carolina in March of 1728.
“…it was agreed that our chaplain might safely take a turn to Edenton, to preach the Gospel to the infidels there, and christen their children. He was accompanied thither by Mr. Little, one of the Carolina Commissioners, who, to show his regard for the Church, offered to treat him on the road with a fricassee of rum. They fried half a dozen rashers of very fat bacon in a pint of rum, both which being dished up together, served the company at once both for meat and drink.”
Bacon fried in rum… and look at that recipe again – SIX PIECES of VERY FAT bacon fried in a pint of rum. Or should that be boiled in rum, since there should have been quite enough liquid to submerge the bacon, especially after the bacon fat started melting. What could possibly go wrong, other than a kitchen fire of monumental proportions? Granted, the parson and the Commissioner were at the edge of the Great Dismal Swamp during a wet spring, so an accidental fire was not terribly likely. The commissioners had also gone through a food shortage recently, one so severe that one member protected his dog lest it be thrown in the stewpot. After that experience, bacon boiled in rum might be a delicacy. If one of my intrepid readers tries this, please send a review of the experience – I’d be interested to know what it tastes like. Not quite enough to risk this on my stove, but interested nevertheless…