Confession: baked beans tend to be rather blah, in my opinion. They can be ultra-sweet, one note, meh. Not a dish that I ever crave or that would deserve a second helping. But these beans. Oh, these beans are to be remembered.
These are meaty. These are zesty. These are hearty. These are baked beans like baked beans always should have been. The original recipe is called “calico baked beans”, but these are not for kitties. These are beans for cowboys. These are manly, rugged baked beans. (I think I have used up my quota of adjectives.)
My aunt brought these to a family gathering many years ago, my mom asked for the recipe, and she’s been making them ever since. Hence, my baked bean snobbery.
Share them at your next summer gathering.
cowboy baked beans
modified from “Noteworthy: A Collection of Recipies from the Ravina Festival”
serves a crowd
1 pound ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 – 1 lb bacon, cooked, drained, in 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (dark*) brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup barbeque sauce
2 Tbsp (dijon**) mustard
2 Tbsp molasses
3/4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2- 16 oz cans beans***
28 oz canned pork and beans
In a large skillet, cut bacon into small piece and cook until crisp. Drain and remove from skillet. Brown beef and onion together in skillet. Drain well.
In medium bowl combine sugars, ketchup, barbeque sauce, mustard, molasses, chili powder, salt and pepper. Mix. Add in beans, pork and beans, beef, onion, and half of bacon.
Spray a large casserole dish with non-stick spray and transfer bean mixture into this dish. Top with remaining bacon. Cover and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 more minutes.
You can keep these beans warm in a low oven for an hour if needed.
* It’s perfectly fine to use light brown sugar, but if you have dark on hand, that’s my first choice.
** This recipe can be made with any mustard, but I always have dijon on hand.
*** Any beans work for here. I love to use the cans of tricolor beans: a mix of red (or kidney), black, and white beans. Use whatever blend of beans you like.