Despite the fact that we had a record rainfall yesterday I’m in summer mode and am hungry for all the wonderful side dishes that go along with our favorite grilled meats. Barbecued baked beans is at the top of the list for so many reasons…they are delicious and everybody loves them, they are very economical to make, they can be made ahead, they travel well and can be served at room temperature…and EVERYBODY LOVES THEM! This recipe is as easy as it gets and can legitimately be called a one pot wonder. What could be better for that 4th of July cookout?
I started with one pound of small white beans, soaked them for several hours, then simmered them in a seasoned stock until tender. It can take awhile…3-4 hours sometimes. Beans vary a lot in the time it takes them to cook so allow yourself ample time. Be sure you can mash a bean or two between your fingers because once the sugar is added to the beans they won’t soften any more and you could end up with a pot of crunchy BBQ’d beans…not good. Combine all the ingredients in a Dutch oven or a crock pot and simmer for 4-5 hours or until tender.
I like to use a ham bone in my baked beans but didn’t have one so I cut 1/2 pound of thick sliced applewood bacon into 1-inch pieces and added that to the ingredients in the pot. The beans need lots of seasoning so taste the mixture at this point and add more brown sugar, mustard and salt and pepper as needed. They are supposed to have a BIG flavor.
My grandmother was famous for her open faced baked bean, bacon, tomato and cheddar sandwiches. My grandparents loved to play cards and got together with family and friends on a Saturday night once a month for some fun and good food. These scrumptious sandwiches were often passed around during the evening and there were always plenty for everybody. These sandwiches have it all…spicy sweet baked beans, smokey bacon, fresh tomatoes and a good, sharp cheddar cheese on a toasted bun…yum, yum, yum. Top a toasted sesame bun (or any bread of your choice) with hot baked beans, crisp hot bacon, tomato and a slice of cheddar cheese. Place under the broiler until cheese is melted and bubbly.
Adapted from a recipe found on Epicurious.com
- 1 pound small white beans
- ½ cup onions, finely chopped
- ½ cup celery with leaves, finely chopped
- ½ cup bell pepper, chopped
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups tomato sauce, either homemade or canned
- ⅓ cup brown sugar, or more to taste
- ¼ cup molasses
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, or more to taste
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, or to taste
- 3-1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cracked pepper
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dry thyme)
- Wash bean and place in a large pot. Cover with cold water, boil for 5 minutes, and remove from heat. Let sit in a covered pot for at least 1 hour. In a cast iron skillet, saute onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat for 4 minutes or until onion is translucent. Add tomato sauce, sugar, molasses, mustard, Worchestershire sauce and Tabasco and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Pour off the water from the beans and replace with 3-1/2 cups fresh cool water or stock. Add bay leaves, salt, pepper and thyme. Let simmer covered, until beans are tender. You should be able to mash one or two between your fingers. If the beans aren't soft and sugar is added to them they won't get any more tender no matter how long you cook them.
- Saute bacon; drain on paper towels. Combine beans and tomato sauce in a Dutch oven or crock pot. Stir in the bacon. Baked beans need lots of flavor so adjust seasonings here. Add more brown sugar, mustard, Tabasco, salt and pepper to taste. Bake in a 300-degree oven for 4-5 hours or in a crock pot on high for 4-5 hours. Stir beans now and then. Add more water or stock as needed if they get too thick. They continue to thicken as they cool. Save any extra liquid to thin the beans if necessary after they have cooled.