Friday, August 19, 2011

Mom's Baked Beans

One of my favorite summer dishes is baked beans and whenever I think of baked beans, I think of my mom’s baked beans. Why it’s only in the summer that I think of these I’m not sure, unless that’s when Mom usually made them. Kind of like her chicken and dumplings, we only had those at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I like just about any kind of baked beans, but Mom’s always stand out….I’m not sure if it’s because she didn’t use doctored up pork and beans or what, but I’ve always thought they were better than most. I’ve actually heard people at our family reunions tell her that they didn’t normally like baked beans but did hers. This is another recipe that she didn’t have written down, but I helped her make them enough that I knew what the ingredients were, not difficult since there were only five, I  just wasn’t sure of measurements. After a little trial and error, I think I’ve come up with her recipe.

Mom's Baked Beans
1 lb Navy beans
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cups ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar, plus 1 tsp.
1 lb. bacon
1. Overnight soak: Rinse and sort beans in a large pot, add 6-8 cups cold water. Let stand overnight or at least 6-8 hours. Drain water and rinse again.
2. Cooking Directions: Add 6 cups of hot water to rinsed and drained beans. Simmer gently with lid tilted for 1 hour or until desired tenderness is reached.
3. Cook beans until done, but not soft (Should smash, with very little resistance, when squeezed between thumb and finger. It's easier for me to test the doneness by eating one.).
4. Preheat oven to 350
5. Mix beans with onion, brown sugar and ketchup. Place in a 9x13 pan. Cover with strips of bacon. Bake until bacon is crisp (about 30 min), stir (may want to taste and add more ketchup and/brown sugar, if needed). Add more bacon and bake again, follow above procedures until all bacon is used. I always remove any bacon that is kind of soft. If beans get a little dry, just add a little water.
For quick soak method, see instructions on bag of beans.
Equivalency: 1 cup of dry beans is approximately 2-1/2 to 3 cups cooked beans.
Author Notes
I cooked the beans for 1 hour may need to cook longer next time.
Make sure beans are done before adding ketchup...once ketchup is added the beans will stop cooking.

Use one pound of Navy Beans, that's what Mom always used. Can substitute Great Northern Beans.
Soak overnight in cold water.
Drain, rinse and drain again.
Simmer gently for 1 hour or until the beans reach the desired tenderness, then drain. It's important to make sure the beans are completely cooked at this point because once you add the ketchup, in spite of being in the oven for several hours, they will not continue to cook.
 Combine, beans, onion, ketchup and brown sugar.

Slice one pound of bacon. Yes, I said one pound. I know that sounds like a lot, but that is the secret to the wonderful flavor of these beans. You aren't going to eat the whole pan (even though you may want to) and this is a dish that you probably won't prepare often, so just eat and enjoy. If you don't want to use a whole pound, you can probably get by with using 1/2 pound. I've always used a pound so don't know if this would change the flavor much.

Slice bacon into small pieces. My mom used to use the whole slices, but I find that the bacon cooks up better when in smaller pieces. To make cutting the bacon easier, wrap bacon in plastic wrap and freeze for 15 minutes. This makes the bacon hard enough that it can be chopped with a chefs knife, as finely as needed.

Place beans in a 9x13 inch pan and layer bacon on top.

Bake until bacon is crisp (approx. 30 minutes), stir bacon into beans, add another layer of bacon and bake, continue doing this until all the bacon is used. At some point during the baking process, you may want to taste the beans and add more ketchup and/or brown sugar according to your taste. My mom used a lot of brown sugar, she liked everything sweet. If the beans get too dry, mix in a little water. What I like to do is if I have an empty ketchup bottle, I keep that, add water to the bottle, shake and use that to thin out the beans.

 If you don't have the time, or don't want to bother using dried beans, you can buy beans in cans or jars that are already cooked. Once in a while, in the days when it was just Mom and me living in the family home, she would get a craving for baked beans and she would whip up a batch using the canned. They were still good.

Whenever I make and eat these beans they remind me of Mom and how the house used to smell when they were baking away in the oven. They were always a must have at all our summer family gatherings.


Unknown said...

Gotta love those nice chunks of bacon there...yum!!

Cookiebaker said...

Danielle, that's what makes them so good. Bacon rules!!!1

RetiredWithNoRegrets said...

I was thinking of what we used to call 'pork and beans' when I was growing up. This recipe is just like it. My mouth is watering!

Gotta make these! Need to get the white beans.

Cookiebaker said...

Hmm, and for me, when I think of pork and beans, I think of that canned stuff. I hope you get some made, just writing about them made me want to make bake some again.

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