Saturday, June 4, 2011

Bacony Baked Beans

This is another of those "I don't usually like this stuff, but this version is delicious" posts, much like I did with fries a while ago.  My stepfather particularly liked (in fact, he still does, now again) because I "won't eat a bean!"  In general, I'm not a big baked bean person.  As a kid, the only beans I would eat were green beans, and I'm not sure those really count.  The exception was my mom's baked beans.  As she describes them, her recipe is really more like "chili that tastes like baked beans."  I wasn't the biggest fan of beans in chili either, growing up, but I've since reformed my ways.

This recipe grew out of my attempts to remember mom's recipe, despite having not experienced them for years and years.  Hers involve ground beef and some different kinds of beans, but the spirit is there.  And, really, these ended up quite tasty themselves.

These beans come from humble, relatively simple beginnings, but have met with rave reviews both times that I've brought them to a get-together.  Give them a try!

Here's what you'll need: Some Pork and Beans, plenty of bacon, a large sweet onion, a green bell pepper, some barbecue sauce, a little vinegar, some good mustard (Not yellow!), brown sugar, salt, and pepper.  Some hot sauce and/or cayenne goes great in these, too.  I like a healthy squirt of Sriracha just to give a little pep, but it's entirely optional.  Ratios and flavorings are definitely adaptable depending on how much you want to make and your preferences.

Start by dicing both the sweet onion and the green pepper.  If you like a bit of varied  texture in your beans, chop fairly large chunks.  If you're going more for flavor than texture, dice down smaller.

If you really want to play along at home, this is also the ideal time to slice your thumb open as a result of using an unfamiliar knife.  Whoops.  Stanch the bleeding before you move on to the next step.

Mmm, bacon.  Trim away the really fatty bits and give the rest a rough chop.  It seems a bit like sacrilege not to cook bacon in strip form, but it really makes more sense to cook it at the size we want it in the end.  Better yet, this lets us cook it together with the veggies.

Toss the bacon into a medium-high heat skillet.  Give it a minute or two all by itself, until its released some fat to coat the bottom of the pan.

That bacon fat is just the thing to cook up our peppers and onions in.  This way we don't need any added oil, and can impart plenty of flavor to the veggies.  Get them in the pan, too.

Cook everything until the veggies are tender and the bacon is cooked through.  Your bacon won't get particularly crispy this way, but that's okay.  We don't want it to end up overcooked after the beans go into the oven shortly.

At this point, it will smell more like you're making a Denver Omelet than baked beans.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Let's make some sauce.  Into the skillet of bacon and veggies, add plenty of barbecue sauce, a healthy squeeze of mustard, a dash of vinegar, and a small handful of brown sugar.  Careful measurements aren't particularly important here.  Give it a taste and use your best judgment.  Now is also the time to add hot sauce or cayenne, if that's your thing.

Let that cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes.

At this point, you're probably starting to wonder when we'll see an actual bean in this baked bean recipe.

Well, it's bean time!  Open up your can(s) of beans and empty them into a large baking dish.  Pour out the contents of the skillet into that same dish and mix, mix, mix.

Now, you could just eat them this way.  If you're in a hurry, go ahead and do so.  But if you really want the flavors to marry, it's time for the "baked" part.

Bake your pan of beans uncovered in a 350 degree oven for approximately 45 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.  Compare this picture with the unbaked one above, and you'll notice that the unbaked has a much thinner sauce, but color-wise there's not much change.  Don't look for much in the way of browning.

Do resist the urge to dip a finger or spoon right in and start eating.  Baked beans right out of the oven are basically napalm.  Give them a little time to cool, preferably in the car on the way to a shindig.  Yeah, I said shindig.

Serve as a side to accompany burgers, brats, hot dogs, or pretty much anything else grilled.  Or just eat them.  I'll let you decide.


Recipe: Bacony Baked Beans

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes   |   Cook Time: 1 hour   |   Difficulty: Easy   |   Servings: 16-20.

  • 2 28 oz cans Pork and Beans
  • 1 pound Bacon, fat trimmed
  • One large Sweet Onion
  • One large Green Bell Pepper
  • 1/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Barbecue Sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2-3 tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • Hot Sauce to taste
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Chop onion and bell pepper.  Trim extra fat from bacon and chop to bite-sized chunks.

Fry bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes.  Add vegetables and mix well.  Cook mixture until vegetables are tender and bacon fully cooked.

Reduce skillet to medium heat.  Add barbecue sauce, vinegar, mustard, brown sugar, and hot sauce.  Mix well and cook an additional 2 minutes.

Add Pork and Beans to a 9x13" baking dish.  Pour contents of skillet into dish and mix well.

Bake 45 minutes until sauce has thickened considerably.  Let cook 10-15 minutes before serving.

1 comment:

  1. Please don't post pictures of raw bacon! Or mention bacon in a post. Or allude to bacon in any way. Thank you.