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Inside Baked Beans

Favorite recipes for this summer barbecue staple use everything from basil to molasses, with each flavorful ingredient kicking up the intensity of the side dish
Wednesday, July 28, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:26 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

BATON ROUGE, La. — As families fire up barbecues for summer weekend cookouts, chances are baked beans will appear alongside whatever’s cooking on the grill.

It stands to reason pots of simmering and spicy baked beans should be summer’s savory of choice. Baking beans is easy, which makes the classic baked or barbecued beans the perfect side dish to serve with chicken, steaks, ribs and roasted vegetables.

Since grilling requires attention from the cook, it’s nice to have a repertoire of side dishes that are simple to assemble.

A newspaper’s food staff tested both recipes using dried beans that must be simmered for a couple of hours at minimum, and recipes based on canned beans. There was no appreciable difference in the taste, so we recommend going with the convenient and quick-fixing canned beans.

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(Photo courtesy of Artville)

According to “The American Century Cookbook” by Jean Anderson, the first commercially canned pork and pea beans were done by Burnham and Morrill (B&M) of Portland, Maine, in 1927.

The Bean Education and Awareness Network says that eating beans can offer a host of health benefits, including weight loss, diabetes and heart-disease prevention. Beans are also a simple and economical way to get nutrients including protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Cooks do negate some of those health benefits when they mix in ingredients like smoked bacon, ground beef or maple syrup, but if portion sizes are moderate even the fattier baked bean dishes can be enjoyed.

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(Photo Illustration by COLIN WEBB and NICK SAWIN)

Fit for a King Baked Beans

3 slices bacon, chopped

1½ cups chopped onions

3 tablespoons minced ginger root

3 cloves garlic, minced

Four 15-ounce cans navy or great Northern beans

½ cup packed dark-brown sugar

½ cup light molasses

½ cup ketchup

½ cup apple cider

1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard

½ cup crushed gingersnaps

½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves

½ teaspoon ground allspice

2 bay leaves

Fry bacon until crisp in skillet; drain bacon thoroughly on paper towels. Discard all but 1 teaspoon bacon fat; add onions, ginger root and garlic to skillet and saute until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Mix all ingredients in 2-quart casserole. Bake, covered, at 300 F for 2 hours; bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Discard bay leaves.

Makes 8 servings.

Baked Beans and Meat

1 pound ground beef

1 large onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

½ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons prepared mustard

¾ (14-ounce) bottle ketchup

Dash of Worcestershire sauce

Three 1-pound cans pork and beans

6 to 8 strips of bacon

Brown beef in skillet without grease. Add onion and bell pepper. Cook until tender. Add sugar, mustard, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well with pork and beans. Pour into large greased baking dish and cover with bacon strips. Bake at 350 F for 1 hour.

Serves 6.

Patsy Allor’s recipe in “Finest & Best Cuisine,” published by First Baptist Church, Baton Rouge

Barbecued Beans

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 bell pepper, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

¾ pound ground round

One 1-pound, 15-ounce can pork and beans

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

½ tablespoon black pepper

¼ cup barbecue sauce

¼ cup ketchup with Tabasco sauce

¼ cup cane syrup

¾ teaspoon dry mustard powder

½ teaspoon curry powder

Heat olive oil and saute onion, bell pepper and garlic in the hot olive oil until softened. Stir in ground round and continue cooking until browned. Drain off excess grease. Stir in canned pork and beans. Mix in Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, barbecue sauce, ketchup, cane syrup, and mustard and curry powders. Simmer for an hour to meld the flavors. Serve hot.

Makes 4 servings.

From David Simmons

Barbecued Baked Beans

One 16-ounce can pork and beans

One 16-ounce can kidney beans, drained

One 16-ounce can green lima beans, drained

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 to 3 tablespoons strong cold coffee

¼ cup brown sugar

½ cup ketchup

Pinch of oregano

Pinch sweet basil

Dash Tabasco

3 strips bacon

Combine all ingredients, except bacon strips, in a greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Place bacon strips on top. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Remove cover and continue baking 15 additional minutes.

Makes 10 servings.

From “Pass the Plate,” published by The Collection from Christ Episcopal Church, New Bern, N.C.


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