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What is Durgin-Park?
Durgin-Park is a landmark restaurant in Boston famous for its stick-to-your-ribs Yankee cuisine, scruffy atmosphere, and surly wait staff. This centuries-old restaurant features a variety of hearty entrees and desserts, many dating back to the Colonial days, that are sure to satisfy even the hungriest appetite. Durgin-Park's menu includes dishes such as Yankee pot roast, lobster, prime rib, and pork chops, served with generous portions of homemade mashed potatoes, Boston baked beans, cornbread, and other delicious sides. And no matter how full you may get, regular customers always try to make room for dessert, because no meal at this restaurant is complete without its piece de resistance: Indian pudding.
Years ago, I lived in the Boston area and I used to eat at Durgin-Park quite a lot - and boy, did I love their Indian pudding! Sure, the waitresses used to remind me at times of Carla on "Cheers," but after awhile, you could tell that their brusque ways were mostly just for show. That, plus the cramped seating and long communal tables, were all part of this restaurant's charm.
The next time you're in Boston, make sure to leave plenty of room for a hale and hearty meal at Durgin-Park. And for those of you who cannot make it to Beantown, you'll be happy to know that you can now recreate many of their classic dishes right in your own kitchen with the Durgin-Park Cookbook: Classic Yankee Cooking in the Shadow of Faneuil Hall featured on this page. So, roll up your sleeves and bring out the butter, eggs, red meat (or seafood, if you prefer), corn, and molasses. A taste of Americana awaits you!
The above image is from Durgin-Park Cookbook: Classic Yankee Cooking in the Shadow of Faneuil Hall which can be purchased at amazon.com.
Have you ever eaten at Durgin-Park?
Besides their famous Indian pudding recipe, this cookbook includes many other classic Durgin-Park entrees and desserts that have kept Bostonians well fed for generations. For a taste of coming attractions, check out the recipes below.
Indian Pudding Recipe
When most people think of Durgin-Park, the first thing that comes to mind is their legendary, to-die-for Indian pudding. This heavenly, one-of-a-kind concoction is made from really simple ingredients and may not be much to look at, but to me, it tastes like something you would find at a fancy restaurant.
If you've never had it before, you're in for a treat! And if you have, it's something you never forget. I highly recommend you serve it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. (Many people also like whipped cream as a garnish, and that is fine, too.)
Prep Time: About 30 minutes
Total Time: 5-7 hours
- 1/2 cup yellow granulated corn meal
- 1/4 cup black molasses
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 egg
- 3 cups milk
- Vanilla ice cream (optional garnish)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Thoroughly mix all the above ingredients (except Vanilla ice cream) with one half of the milk (1.5 cups).
- Pour mixture in a well-greased ovenproof stone crock.
- Bake until the mixture boils.
- Remove from oven and stir in the remaining half of milk (1.5 cups).
- Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 5-7 hours.
- Serve pudding warm with a scoop of Vanilla ice cream on top.
Boston Baked Beans Recipe
Prep Time: About 30 minutes (plus periodic checking)
Total Time: About 14 hours (including overnight soaking)
- 1 pound (2 cups) dried Navy beans
- 1/2 pound salt pork
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2/3 cups dark molasses
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Soak beans overnight in water.
- The next day, drain, rinse, and put beans in a saucepan. Fill with water half an inch above the beans and boil for 25-30 minutes until tender (so that the outer shell slips off when a bean is pinched) bit not too soft.
- Drain beans through a colander or strainer and save the stock.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cut salt pork into one inch pieces and place half of salt pork in an ovenproof pot (2-quarts or larger).
- Add beans, sugar, molasses, mustard, white pepper, salt, and bean stock.
- Top beans with the remaining salt pork.
- Bake for 4-4.5 hours.
- Remove from oven and let sit for 30 minutes before serving.
- Important: Check beans every hour or so to make sure there is enough water to keep them moist. Add water as necessary, but do not overfill.
Durgin-Park is located at 340 Faneuil Hall Marketplace in downtown Boston. (The photo to the right, taken in 2009, is the entrance.) This restaurant was first opened in 1742 in an old warehouse and purchased in 1827 by John Durgin and Eldridge Park. Since then, it has been one of Boston's most famous landmarks and most popular tourist attractions. Since its founding, Durgin-Park has specialized in Yankee cookery as well as dishes native to the New England area such as seafood and clam chowder. Its atmosphere is unique in that customers are seated at long communal tables elbow-to-elbow and the wait staff have maintained the restaurant's long tradition of treating customers with a gruff and surly attitude. So far as restaurants in the Boston area go, Durgin-Park is moderately priced, and you can pretty much come as you are.
In its long history, Durgin-Park has changed head chefs only a handful of times, so most of the original recipes have been well preserved over the years. In 1840, Durgin and Park took on a third partner, John G. Chandler. After the passing of Durgin and Park, Chandler and his family continued to own and run the restaurant to 1945. Since then, Durgin-Park has changed ownership only three times. This restaurant is now owned by Ark Restaurants who purchased it in 2007.
Image credit: Pmcyclist