Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Baked Bean Quest

Janet here: My dad was famous for his baked beans. Okay, maybe famous is a touch of an exaggeration but he was famous in our family. Anyway he baked them in some kind of large brown crockpot contraption that I'm not even sure exists anymore. They took hours of slow cooking and they were to-die-for delicious. Just the right mix of brown sugary/molasses wonderfulness tinged with a little bit of mustard and with pieces of some kind of fat — pork? — floating in there for flavor. I absolutely loved them.

I also loved eating cold baked beans in a sandwich. Yup, in between two pieces of white bread no less. The first time I saw my dad make up this concoction, I blanched and said, "Yuck." But then he said, "Try it, Jake." (His nickname for me.) So I did and I was blown away. It was that good.

Sadly, my father's recipe for baked beans died with him and I have been searching out the recipe ever since. This recipe marks my latest attempt. My inspiration comes from a recipe in the current issue of the Food Network Magazine and it's tasty. But it's not my dad's, and so the quest continues.

Baked Beans

5 slices thick-cut bacon, diced. I use turkey bacon.
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced peeled ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 15-ounce can whole tomatoes, crushed
3 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard powder
salt and pepper to taste
2 15-ounce cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can navy beans, undrained
2 hamburger buns or 2 slices of bread, torn into pieces

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Cook about 2/3 of the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a bowl, leaving behind the drippings. Add the onion to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and gold, about 8 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic and chili powder and cook, stirring about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and the molasses, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, mustard powder, some salt and pepper. Increase the heat to medium high, bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the pinto beans, then the navy beans and their liquid. Return to a simmer. Stir in the bacon. Transfer it all to a 2-quart baking dish.

Pulse the buns with the remaining uncooked bacon in a food processor until finely ground. Strew the crumbs over the bean mixture. Cover and bake 45 minutes. Then uncover and bake until the crumbs are golden brown, about 20 more minutes.


  1. Your dad's baked beans sound delicious.... this little story reminds of a good friend from highschool's mom, who, along with his dad would put on these pig roast parties from time to time.... anywho she would also slow cook baked beans in a brown crock for hours and the were, to date the best baked beans I have ever had.... thanks for sharing!


  2. mike-

    i have wanted to do a pig roast for years now. when i finally do, baked beans are on the ticket.


  3. Mike
    That brown crock sounds exactly like what I remember my dad cooking them in....there must be something magic about those things.

    Thanks for sharing your memory. Let me know if you find the magic bean recipe!