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Oh yah, it’s time for Baked Beans, baby

The 4th of July means many delicious foods… and right near the top of my list is baked beans.

Are baked beans an American thing?  Probably not… I know I ate some sort of baked beans with my breakfast several times while I was traveling in England.

But my baked beans make you think more of cowboys and cattle drives and eating supper on a tin plate- straight from the American West, absolutely hearty and delicious.  These baked beans are a perfect compliment to any 4th of July BBQ.

This recipe comes from my sister, Cam… and while I’ve made some changes to her original recipe… I think of her every time I make a pot.  Thanks Cam!  I love ya, sis.

Buddy Loves Baked Beans

2 40-oz. cans Pork & Beans
1 20-oz. can red kidney beans
2 15-oz. cans baby Lima beans
1 lb. ground hamburger
1 whole onion diced
1 lb. bacon
1 ½ c. ketchup
1 cup brown sugar
1- 2 cups white granulated sugar- to taste (I always use 1 cup)
3-4 Tbsp liquid smoke (I definitely use 4 Tbsp!)
2 Tbsp white vinegar
Tabasco sauce to taste –lots for me thanks

Brown hamburger and onion; drain.  Cook bacon, drain and chop.  Drain and rinse all beans (except for the Pork and Beans, they go in sauce and all.)  Mix the ingredients together in a 5 quart oven proof pot with a tight fitting lid (I use a dutch oven.)  Cook for two hours in oven at 300 degrees with the lid.  Remove lid and cook three more hours at 250 degrees.  If the beans are too thick you can add water to get the right consistency.

Here’s a little step by step:

Your sous-chef gets the day off… you’re just going to chop one onion for this recipe.

Also chop up a pound of cooked bacon.  I cooked mine all at once in the oven.  Lay the bacon out on a single layer on the baking rack with a larger cookie sheet underneath to catch the drippings of course. Cook at 400 degrees for about 15 – 18 minutes… until nice and crunchy…. and no greasy mess on my stove top either!

In a large 5 quart pan with a tight lid, saute the onion and brown the hamburger.

If, like me, you don’t have an electric can open… get ready for a workout.  If you look closely, my cans aren’t exactly what the recipe calls for.  That’s because I use what I have… or what I can find at the store.  I can never find baby Lima beans in a can.  When I think about it the day before, I always used dried baby Lima beans, and soak them over night.  Then they are ready for cooking the next day.  Don’t ever put unsoaked or even under-soaked beans in your baked beans.  You can cook the fooey out of them but once the beans have mixed with any sort of salt… they will never totally soften.  (Trust me on this one… not so fun when you are serving a crowd of 50 people!)

So this time I used 1 – 53 oz. and 1 – 15 oz. can of pork and beans, 2 – 15 oz. cans of red kidney beans, and 1 – 15 oz. can of Cannellini beans, and at the last minute after the picture… I used 1  – 15 oz. can of white beans.

Here’s some flavor for you.  Especially from the liquid smoke… don’t even think of skipping the liquid smoke.  Add the 4 Tbsp of liquid smoke, 2 Tbsp of white vinegar, and 1 1/2 CUPS of ketchup… yes I did say cups.

Who knew cowboys had such a sweet tooth?  Here goes 1 cup of brown sugar.

Really, more sugar?  The original recipe called for 2 cups of white sugar!  I’ve cut it down to 1 cup… and I think it tastes plenty sweet.

Throw all the ingredients in the pot.

Now for my favorite ingredient.  I should buy stock in the company that makes Tabasco.

Don’t be shy now… give it some spice.

Mix it all up.  Put the lid on, and put the pot into a 300 degree oven for 3 hours.

Take the lid off and cook it for 2 more hours… until they are dark, thick and delicious….  “ummm, honey, I think it’s your night for dishes.”

Serve em up, cowboy.  But unless you take some Beano… you’re sleepin’ in the barn tonight.

Enjoy your 4th of July… I hope it’s a blast!

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3 Responses to “Oh yah, it’s time for Baked Beans, baby”

  • Jana:

    How fun to read this! I was just at the store today walking past the canned beans when I remembered how my Mom used to make this very recipe for potlucks and cookouts–she called it “Burger Baked Beans” and it was always a hit. I don’t think she ever used baby lima beans either, although these days it is easy to find nice frozen ones even in our little town.

    Everyone has a different take on the salt issue with dried beans, but Cook’s Illustrated/Am Test Kitchen and other food scientists/writers I’ve consulted say that salt does not slow/halt bean cooking–in fact, Cook’s Illustrated’s website even advises “brining” dried beans in salted water for better flavor and more even cooking. Apparently, the age of dried beans and, occasionally, very hard tap water are usually the culprits when beans never quite fully cook/soften.

    I love your blog and appreciate all your creative and interesting posts! Thanks for sharing all of your great ideas . . . hope you have a wonderful Fourth of July, too!

    • How interesting about the beans! I made them one time when I didn’t fully soften them before I threw them in the pot. Even after 10 hours of cooking, they still had a some crunch to them. I was cooking for 50 people that day, and I was so frustrated. The old timers told me it was because of the salt, but maybe, they were just old beans! I definitely have very hard water to add insult to injury. Don’t you just love Cook’s Illustrated? Some of my favorite recipes are from their Test Kitchens. Cheers, Calli

  • Jana:

    Oh, I can just imagine the frustration with the beans for a crowd not softening. I’ve had the same thing happen to me in smaller quantities. Then I married a Mexican-American guy and was promptly (but gently) urged to study up on bean preparation as it was an important part of my wifely duties (LOL!).

    Yes, I love Cook’s so much. I was given a gift subscription to their magazine way back in their early days, and pretty much all my best recipes come from them (except, of course, for family favorites like Burger Baked Beans!) Thank goodness they came out with a “light” cookbook a few years ago (and a similar one this year, Light and Healthy). Otherwise I was going to have to start creatively editing some of my favorite recipes from them for health reasons!

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