Simply the Best (Recipe: Country Baked Beans)
There’s a whole line of commercially prepared baked beans readily available for busy people who like baked beans but are short on time. I’ve never tried any of them, but I hear they are just fine. I’m sure they are. However, contrary to a marketing tag line, I don’t think they are simply the best. That description belongs to homemade baked beans.
The secret to simply the best baked beans has nothing to do with the beans or the barbeque sauce. It’s all about the bacon. So much so, I do think the title of this age-old dish should be Baked Bacon on a Bed of Barbeque Beans.
For the homemade version, bacon bakes on top of beans and slowly releases it smokey sweet bacon grease into the beans creating a flavor you just can’t get from a can.
The preparation is easy and relatively fast. All you do is open a couple of cans of pork and beans, dice up a piece of a bell pepper, make a simple barbeque sauce and mix it all together. Then you peel and quarter an onion and bury it in the beans.
Now comes the BACON. Cover the top of the beans with smoked bacon. That’s the part that missing from the canned product. You certainly cook bacon in a commercially prepared product but it gets all mixed in and isn’t noticeable. I’m not even sure if store-bought canned baked beans get cooked with bacon. You can bet your bottom dollar my homemade baked beans are. You can see, smell and taste the bacon. That’s the way baked beans were intended.
The cooking time does take some planning, for the bacon and beans need at least an hour to reach their maximum peak of deliciousness. The pay off is that you get to smell bacon cooking for an entire hour. In my book, that’s simply the best.
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Country Baked Beans
yield: 8 servings
A good quality smoked bacon makes all the difference in the world. Having said that, there may be no such thing as a bad quality smoked bacon. So, nevermind. The addition of green bell pepper may seem a tad bit unusual. The flavor will not overwhelming but it adds a special touch to the dish.
2 ( 1 pound 12 ounce) cans pork and beans (I used Van Kamp’s)
1/4 large green bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup yellow mustard
1 large sweet onion, peeled and quartered
4 strips of the best bacon you can get your hands on
Mix pork and beans with diced bell pepper.
Mix together next three ingredients and add to bean mixture. Mix well. Pour into a baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Don’t forget to spray the dish. This stuff bakes on likes nobody’s business.
Bury the onion quarters in the beans.
Cover the top of the beans with the bacon.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours or until the bacon is crispy and the beans mixture is bubbly. The level of the liquid should cook down just below the surface of the beans. The amount of cook time is dependent up the size of the baking dish and the depth of the bean mixture. I used a 9 1/2 inch by 3 inch round baking dish and cooked them for 2 hours.