Now, they weren't always GOOD baked beans. Sometimes they were nothing but someone dumping a can of Campbell's Pork & Beans into a pan and heating them up (nothing against Campbell's, but that's NOT the way we like them in our family) - but however they were made, they were always there. That part really hasn't changed much - the difference now is that since I usually host most of the picnics I end up attending, I make them so I KNOW that's not what they are!
My family also had a catering business at one time and since it was primarily outside food (ribs, chicken, burgers, dogs, etc), baked beans were one of our go-to sides. After every job, someone (or a lot of someones) asked for the recipe. Even now, when we have invite guests for dinner, I have to make them (even if they don't go with the rest of the meal at all) or I'm afraid I'll be disowned - that's how good they are. Part of the secret is using BBQ sauce in the beans. Of course I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you that the best sauce to use is Mac Brothers, but in reality whatever sauce you like will work. If you don't have any Mac Brothers on hand, K.C. Masterpiece is a good substitute.
This recipe has been in my family for years - I remember both my mother and my grandfather making it when I was a kid. As is the case with most everything I make, I've changed it a bit - not a lot, just tweaks here and there that I think make it taste better. I'll note where I've made the changes and what they were so if you prefer to do it the "old-fashioned" (and easier) way, you can.
NOTE FOR VEGETARIANS!!
If you want to make them vegetarian, start out with using cans of vegetarian beans and skip the bacon. I frequently make two batches when we have a lot of people over for a cookout (one vegetarian, one not).
This recipe is for a party with a lot of people (at least a dozen). If you're fixing it for your family you can adjust the size accordingly (unless you want a lot of leftovers!).
If you try them, let me know what you think!
|Garlic and onions ready to go|
Ingredients6 cans baked beans (11 oz)*
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
12 pieces bacon, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup Grandpa's Best Sweet & Mild BBQ Sauce**
2 tsp liquid smoke
*NOTE: Use whatever brand of beans you like. We like Van Camp's, but they are difficult to find where I live, so we frequently use Bush's. They also seem to come in a variety of can sizes. I made these two weeks ago and used six 11 oz cans. I had to make them for another party last week and they were almost out of the 11 oz size, so I bought a 48 oz can and the last two 11 oz cans. As long as you're close to the right amount, it's good enough.
**For just a bit more heat, try Grandpa's Best Warm & Smoky BBQ Sauce instead.
- Preheat oven to 350
- Drain about half of the beans (in this case, three cans)
- Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until it gets crisp. I use two strips of bacon per can, hence 12 strips (this is one of those steps I added - in the original recipe, the bacon was still there, but it wasn't cooked. You simply stir it into the beans and leave two strips for the top. It will cook in the oven, but I prefer the flavor - and texture - of the precooked, crispy bacon)
You want the bacon to be nice and crispy
- While the bacon is cooking, add the liquid smoke, BBQ sauce and one cup of the brown sugar to the beans and mix it in
After stirring in the brown sugar, liquid smoke and BBQ sauce
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon and add the onions (if you want vegetarian beans, simply sauté the onions in a small amount of olive oil instead). Once again, this is a step I added. In the original recipe, you simply add the raw onions to the beans - they will cook a bit in the oven as well
- Cook until they are just starting to brown and add the garlic (the garlic is another added step - it didn't exist in the original, but I REALLY like garlic)
- Cook until the garlic is starting to get fragrant (about 30 seconds to one minute)
- Remove from the stove and pour the rendered bacon fat, onions and garlic into the beans along with the bacon and mix well
Ready for the oven
- Sprinkle the top with the last 1/2 cup of brown sugar
Straight out of the oven and ready to eat!
- Bake for an hour