Beans, Sweet n’ Sour

The Covered Dish

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As the norm we’ve tucked ourselves away for the holiday weekend.  We love the tourists, but when it’s a holiday, especially summer, we stay pretty close to home.
With the lower gas prices people are moving about more than they were 2 months ago.  And of course the beastly weather ‘seems’ to be behind us.
This past week it seemed like we were eating out every other day, well, we were!
We celebrated a 21st birthday on Monday and a carry-in dinner on Wednesday.  We dined Monday at the ‘la Hacienda’, which is located a bit behind and to the side of Cracker Barrel in Branson.  Probably my ‘new’ favorite Mexican food.
They had me as soon as I spotted the cloth napkins.  Service was good, and the culinary presentation was not overdone.  It may be hard to believe, but I’m not wrapped up in fancy dinner plates, with lots of foo foo.  Nope, it’s all about quality & taste for this cook.   Of course, I want the plate to look nice, that’s a requirement.  (They serve fresh guacamole, tableside.)  Next time though, I’m trying their calamari.
For the second time I’ve enjoyed the featured recipe.  At the carry-in dinner on Wednesday our neighbors brought the beans.  They are just enough ‘different’ that I am getting hooked on them.  Me, the gal who never uses recipes for beans, (unless I’m forced to).   This type of bean presentation is definitely a northern thing, as you will find in the origination of the recipe.  Baked bean dishes with ‘sweet’ added are definitely not a southern recipe.  Sometimes I think I could make a different baked bean dish every week to carry in my lunch.
I’ve put a great deal of notes in the recipe itself this week.  So be sure and read all the additional comments.  I’m still searching for the recipe I set for my new peach jam dish.  I do not look forward to writing it all over again.
I am really enjoying the 3-day weekend.  I was wiped and the extra day has meant some much needed rest.  Embrace each day friends, I look forward to next week.  Simply Yours, The Covered Dish.  www.thecovereddish.com
Beans, Sweet n’ Sour
This week’s recipe was passed to me by our neighbor, Linda.  It shows it originated from ‘Taste of Home’ magazine, in 2011.  Of course, there’s going to be ‘Debbie’ recommendations and adaptions as I review the recipe within my column.  Keep in mind, the focus is on sweet n’ sour.  We don’t want to modify to the point the base foundation is lost.
Sweet N’ Sour Beans
Barbara Short, Mena, Arkansas
8 strips bacon, diced
2 medium onions, sliced as thin as possible
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 (28 oz.) can baked beans, (recipe called for undrained, I would drain)
1 (16 oz.) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz.) can of lima beans, rinsed and drained*
1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15.5 oz.) can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat.  Place bacon on paper towels to drain and reserve the drippings.  Sauté the onions in the drippings until they are almost to the caramelization stage.  Stir the sugar, vinegar, salt, and mustard and garlic powder into the onions and bring to a boil.  The onions will fool you in the outcome because they look like thinly sliced cabbage!
Using a 5 quart slow cooker, combine all the canned products and add to the onion mixture, stir in bacon; mixing well.  Cover and cook about 3 hours in a slow cooker over medium heat.
The contributor states she came across the recipe from a friend in Alaska, then to her in old Mexico; where she lived for 5 years.  Hats off to Barbara on a unique dish.
*For flavor and color I prefer to use about 1 1/2 cups of frozen & thawed green limas versus the canned giant white ones.
Beans that run across the dinner plate are one of my pet peeves.  Thus the reason why I drained the baked beans.  One might also consider baking this dish in the oven instead of the slow cooker, for a tighter outcome (350 degrees).
Here are a few suggestions I might implement.  For more depth in flavor switch the sugar to a dark brown sugar.  This means it will have more molasses in the dish.  For more bulk add pulled pork, (not smoked) or thinly sliced & grilled kielbasa sausage.  I would probably bake it in the oven versus the slow cooker.
The only thing I haven’t quite figured out is how to garnish the top.  There’s a great deal of color with all the different beans but I still want something to accent the presentation.
Play around, I’ve enjoyed this dish twice now, presented by my neighbor, Linda, and every time I find myself enjoying it more and more.  (So glad she let me bring home the extras this past week!)  I could take this for lunch twice a week, as long as I could keep the bean repercussions at bay!!!

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