This week we’re reaching for one of my favorite dishes, baked beans. For many
many years I never attempted to write down a bean recipe. Finally after
compliments from family and friends I started recording my ‘mixtures’. The
reason I even state this is because to many of us having a recipe for baked beans
is just a bit of a joke. Who ever heard of it? When you make beans you just start
with a few of your favorite ingredients and start putting them together, right?
Not so fast, since I started working for Silver Dollar City in 2008 I have come to
realize that there can be ‘big’ differences in making a good bean recipe.
Flavor is always at the top of any ‘foodies’ list for a good dish, but in a bean dish I
think getting the right combination of beans is very important. Tagging along
head to head with the bean combo is getting the liquid/sauce ratio in good form.
As you’ll read in the notes of my recipe, I despise runny baked beans. The ones
that melt the cream salad and provide a liquid slide for the run-away deviled eggs.
The different styles of baked beans is as broad as corn casserole recipes. I’ve
written Hawaiian Beans, Caribbean Beans, Mexican Beans, Down-Home Beans,
Cowboy Beans, BBQ Beans, Fruity Beans, Tootie Beans, (Ha, just had to slip that
one in.) Spicy Baked Beans and the list goes on and on and on. There are no limits
as to what you can place inside a baked bean dish.
Let’s say its fall and you’ve been invited to a cook-out. The host has asked you to
bring baked beans. First and foremost look at the possible food styles of the
guests attending. (IF you know.) If there are some big time foodies then take the
plunge and take real creative liberties. Should the party include mostly down-
home appetites, farmers or kids I suggest you do a more standard baked bean
dish. With the fall theme I would consider reaching for some of the following
ingredients: Fried Sausage, smoked ham, cooked bacon, apple butter, real maple
syrup, chopped apples, nuts, raisins and even squash. What is one ingredient that
I think beans just must have? Prepared mustard, or at least mustard in some
One time I was asked to bring a big pan of beans to the ‘Cox Family’ Fish Fry at
Gooseneck Bend Farm, formerly located in Platte County, Missouri. I go trucking
in with a pan of beans that probably was ‘valued’ at around $20. Oh yeah these
beans were packed with sausage, hamburger, onion, peppers and all kinds of
yummies. Noticed I underlined the word ‘asked’. Usually it’s a good idea to ask
the hostess what she needs at affairs of this nature. Well; evidently I was the only
one who asked what I should bring. There were probably 8-10 pans of baked
beans. Some of the beans were even in commercial size pans. Needless to say
we all came home with most of our baked beans. I don’t like to freeze beans
unless I absolutely must. I looked at Ervin, my husband, and said: ‘Let’s put these
beans into a big pot of chili.” To this day he still says it was one of the best pots of
chili I ever made.
Try experimenting with the newer ‘Ranch’ style beans in the black cans. The rich
sauce these beans are packed with is delicious. The ‘Ranch’ label originated in
Texas, so the beans have more of a southwest flavor.
As a connoisseur of great beans I will give you these parting words: ‘A picnic just
isn’t a picnic without baked beans.’ I still remember the pan my mom baked her
beans in when we went to Nauvoo, Illinois for our annual fall picnic. This was no
sandwich picnic, oh no! This was fried chicken, cherry crème salad, baked beans,
potato salad, deviled eggs and homemade cake for dessert! Spoiled, nope, just a
mom that showed her love through her incredible cooking. I bet she never knew
what wonderful memories she was creating at the time. Did I mention we had a
tablecloth and damp washcloths to clean our fingers? (This was before ‘wet-
wipes.) They were the best of times.
Simply Yours, The Covered Dish. www.thecovereddish.com
Jilly’s Baked Beans
On a snowy day in 2015 my husband, Ervin, called home from work and said we’re
having a carry-in tomorrow and the dishes are to have dog related names. Ervin
read the list and I thought baked beans would be a good fit. You can figure out
your own ‘fun’ title from there. Personally I think they were desperate to have a
food day at work!
1 (15 ounce) regular can of VanCamp beans, drain excessive juices from beans
1 (28 ounce) can VanCamp Sweet Hickory beans, remove fat pieces
2 (15 ounce) cans Ranch Style Beans with Jalapenos, remove any excessive juice
1 1/2 tablespoons prepared mustard
1 pound, cooked/crumbled sausage
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Hickory BBQ sauce
1 small-medium onion, chopped fine
Since I was a little girl one of my favorite dishes has been baked beans. Writing
recipes for beans has been difficult because I just go to it and seldom record what
I put in the dish. To this day I bet I have written at least 10 or more recipes for
baked beans. I wanted to put chopped peaches in this dish, but didn’t have any
on hand at the time. Often the key to good beans is choosing the right
combination of bean types & sauces.
I believe the key to good baked beans is cooking them long enough, so they don’t
run all over the plate. My pet peeve is to have runny hot beans in my jello or fruit
salads! These were baked at 375 degrees in a greased 9 x 13 pan for about 1 1/2
hours. Allow to set before taking to the table. Serves 8-12 persons depending
upon whether it’s a side or main entrée.
This recipe is dedicated to Jillian, our Welsh Corgi, who is a Rescue Dog.