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You asked for them, and here they are: The best baked bean recipes for your summer baking and beaning pleasures. First thing I should say is that I know some of you just want to know how to fancy-up a can of beans. Here’s how: Just cut some bacon into one-inch chunks, fry it up until it’s soft, and add onions, then fry them till they’re soft. Add cut up red or yellow pepper if you want, and scallions if you’re feeling you want more green. Figure about a cup of cut up onion and two or three slices of bacon per can of beans. Now plop in a can of beans, and stir it around. That’s a better bean! Now for the more ambitious cooks in the crowd, the five best recipes.
Super Basic Baked Beans
Understanding baked beans is the logical starting place. You need to know a few things. One, really old beans take ages to cook—if you end up with an old bag of beans you literally might need four times more cooking time. Two, hard water with a lot of mineral content will make hard beans—if you know you have hard water either cook your beans in bottled water, or add a quarter-teaspoon baking soda per pound of beans. After that, molasses actually helps beans keep their shape. The sugar in them is what prevents Boston Baked beans from turning to refried-bean mush. Don’t try to leave out the sugar—unless you want mush. Here’s an incredibly basic recipe, which is good to know.
Baked Bean Sandwiches!
If you make baked beans, there’s a good chance you’re going to have loads of leftover baked beans. Now what? Now make a baked bean sandwich, which is a genius thing. Take your leftover baked beans, some ham, some cheese, some piccalili, the British and Southern version of Indian pickles. Now, put them all between slices of bread. That’s a really good sandwich!
Cassoulet-Style Vegetarian Baked Beans
I thought we should have a cassoulet-flavored baked bean dish, for those of you without a sweet tooth—baked beans can be a little sweet. This lime bean gratin fits the bill nicely, and it’s vegetarian so you only have to serve one baked bean recipe for your crowd!
Amy Thielen’s Super Meaty Pinto Beans for Oprah!
In honor of Amy Thielen being on the show this week and because I promised you beans, I thought I’d share Amy’s fancy baked beans from her book “The New Midwestern Table”, which I love. It’s a complicated recipe, with slab bacon, and a smoked turkey leg, and sausage too—but it’s an entrée! If you have ever thought you wanted baked beans for dinner, try these!
Franklin Barbecue Brisket Beans
It’s kind of rude to put Amy Thielen’s recipe second-best, but it’s such a complicated recipe, and the cult beans from Franklin Barbecue are just so good! You just make a spice blend and throw it in with some beans and leftover brisket—if you don’t have leftover brisket use this as an excuse to go out for barbecue and take some home. I’d get mine from Q Fanatic on the south side of Minneapolis, but I bet you have your own favorites. This is so good. If you’ve never had it I’m jealous that you’re about to have that first experience. It’s like seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time. So amazing!