Friday, September 5, 2014

Baked Beans Extraordinaire: The Last Fling of Summer

Summertime is always filled with lots of warm summer evenings that just beg for cookouts shared with family and friends.  As the weather begins to shift ever so slightly to the cooler days of fall and we say goodbye to summer, perhaps there's still time for just one more cookout before we move inside once again.  

Now whether you toss some burgers and dogs on the grill- or carefully tend to a steak- or maybe even switch to ribs for a change, there's always a need for Baked Beans.  

Over summers past when it came time for the cookout,  I'd wander through cookbooks- or search the internet- and try first one and then another of the many, many recipes for Baked Beans.  This year I decided it was time to get serious.  To test a few out- and settle on what would become the summer beans to be passed down as the Kappel/Lucas Family Baked Beans.  And by golly I did it.  I think you're going to like these beans so well- and find them so flexible for what ever size pan you're using- and even adaptable for a winter bean pot you'll make this your families favorite recipe for Baked Beans.  

Now for the back story for these beans. The beginnings of this recipe can be traced all the way back to the late 1970s in Norman and a hand copied recipe on a card from a old friend.  With this recipe for starters the rest was just a lot of experimentation.  We did have lots of opportunities for cookouts this summer- so lots of opportunities to make these baked beans.  I think you'll be making them soon.  After all, there's still time for one more cookout before we move our lives indoors for the year.

First we start with the beans!

We use a combination of canned "baked beans" as well as red kidney beans and cannelloni beans (also known as white kidney beans).  You could also use butter beans though when I tried these they turned a bit too mushy for my taste. You mix the beans- about half "baked beans" and half plain beans (the plain beans need to be drained)- into the pan you're going to use to determine whether you need to add more beans or not.  Though I used this Lodge cast Iron Dutch Oven when entertaining at home, I found that a pyrex 11x14 inch worked better when I was carrying the beans for consumption someplace else.  To switch from one size to another I just put the beans in the pan and added more beans if I needed.

Though this recipe could be vegetarian by eliminating the bacon, I'm rather partial to all the bacon goodness that can be tucked into these beans.  I used a total of 12 ounces of bacon (you could go up to a pound if you'd like)- or leave out entirely if that's your preference.  See how versatile this recipe is?  And since I was going to top the beans with bacon, I layered the uncooked bacon on top of the beans to ensure I had the right amount- and set this amount aside- and then cooked the rest to be later stirred into the beans.

Next you're going to cook the bacon that isn't needed for the top.  And then saute onions and green peppers.  I used the left over bacon grease..

Next you're going to gather all the ingredients for the sauce (I'll list those later when I write out the recipe) and mix together in a bowl along with the  bacon and sauteed onions and peppers.

Mix the sauce into the beans and top with the uncooked bacon.  Place the covered pot in a 300 degree oven and begin cooking!


2-3 cans of baked beans of some sort (you can use "pork and  beans" if you'd like)
1 can red kidney beans, drained
1 can cannelloni beans, drained
(As I mentioned above you can adjust the amount of beans to fit the size pan you are using.)
3/4 to 1 pound of bacon (again set aside the bacon you need to cover the top and cook the rest- cut the cooked bacon into small pieces before adding to the beans.)
1 large onion, diced and then softened in olive oil (or you could soften in the bacon grease)
1 large green pepper, diced and softened in oil just as you did for the onion.

1 cup of ketchup
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1 tbsp of molasses 
1 tbsp of liquid smoke
3 tbsp of white vinegar
1-2 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
Salt and Pepper
Hot Sauce (optional)
Mix the dressing ingredients together until well mixed.

Add the sauce, onions, peppers and the bacon to the beans.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees
Cover the beans.  If your pan doesn't have a lid use aluminum foil.)
Cook for 2-3 hours.  I uncovered the pan the last hour so the bacon on top would brown.

Serve with a summer cook out!


PS: I mentioned if you just can't get enough of these beans in the summer you can adjust the recipe just a bit and cook in a crock pot for a "Winter Bean Pot"!  To do this brown 1 pound of hamburger meat with 1/2 pound of diced bacon.  Remove this from skillet and remove all but 2-3 tbsp of grease.  Soften the diced onion and pepper together. Mix the sauce just as for baked beans.  In a crock pot mix together the meat, the beans and the sauce.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  

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