Lord of the Beans


Oh man!  Do I ever love baked beans!  In my early vegetarian days whenever I would attend a family picnic, the only thing to eat was generally the beans and the potato salad.  I would take a bun and generous helping of the beans and make a sandwich.  I’m drooling thinking of this.  Despite my love for the bean that is baked, I’ve never been able to quite get it right in my own kitchen.  Bush’s has made out quite well from me as I would purchase whatever was on sale and eat it straight out of the can.  Anyway, imagine my devastation when after the birth of Liam if I even thought of beans he would have horrible gas.  Horrible.  In these days of no longer breastfeeding and working toward introducing more and more solids to his diet, we’ve gotten reacquainted with the bean.  For the record, he hates hummus, but will tolerate a bean or two in it’s whole form.
As I type this out, a serious summer storm is bearing down on my home.  I’m planning dinner and it’s occurred to me that I still have beans in my fridge from Memorial Day.  The original recipe said that it would feed 18 people and she wasn’t kidding!  What makes this recipe so special is that they are slow-cooked for almost 3 hours, allowing for the sauce the thicken and the bacon to flavor.  You could easily leave out the bacon, but I can’t imagine why.  I chose to use different beans than the recipe called for to cook the bacon until crispy.  I’ve had this recipe both ways and both times I made a fool of myself going back for 14ths.  We’ll be feasting on the leftovers tonight with potatoes and my first attempt at homemade chicken nuggets.  Let it rain, I’ll have a picnic indoors!
Baked Beans (adapted from the Pioneer Woman Cooks) 
  • 8 slices of bacon, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 4-5 cans (15 oz) white beans
  • 3/4 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce (I still haven’t found a recipe I like, so we used a honey barbecue from the store.)
  • 1/3 brown sugar
  • 2 heaping Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (she called for distilled or apple, but I could only find my champagne vinegar.  I couldn’t tell a difference.)
Fry up the bacon in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet.  When the bacon is about 3/4 cooked, add in the onion and the pepper and fry until they are tender.  Drain the grease from the pan (if you like).  In a separate bowl mix together the sauce, sugar, mustard and vinegar until well combined.  Add the beans into the skillet and mix with the onions, pepper and bacon.  Then, pour the sauce over and stir.  Heat the bean through and then transfer to a large baking dish.  (I used my lasagna pan so that I didn’t slop 325 degree beans all over myself on my way out to the deck.)  Bake the beans, uncovered, in a 325 degree oven for 2 and a half to 3 hours, or until the sauce is like molasses in consistency.    
For your budding foodie: I only give my son a few beans at a time.  He’s now almost 11 months, so he can mash them up just fine, but I don’t like the results in his diaper if left to his own devices with the serving spoon.  That’s just me, though.

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