When I was growing up, my mom fixed her BBQ beans recipe quite often. It seemed to also be the dish of choice for her to take to pot luck dinners. At those pot luck dinners there were always five or six bowls of baked beans. Naturally, I would try them all.
Wouldn't you know it... mom's were always the best. They might have even been the simplest recipe. Well... except for the neighbor lady's. She would just open up some Bush's baked beans and dump them in a bowl.
I can't even remember my mom's exact BBQ beans recipe. But this is what was in it:
pork n beans
She mixed up the beans with enough sauce, sugar, and bacon for good flavoring. Then, she put it all into the oven long enough to heat throughout. Easy right? Well, not as easy as my neighbor's, but not too bad.
This BBQ beans recipe is very good, especially if you use a BBQ sauce that you like. Adjust the amounts of ingredients to give you the taste balance you're after. Maybe the reason that I like this BBQ beans recipe so well is that I ate them so much growing up. This baked beans recipe, however, may be too plain and simple for some of you.
This next recipe will give you more of a homemade taste. It's not really more complicated... it just takes longer. It involves cooking beans (not just out of a can) and making your own sauce (not just out of a bottle).
2 cups Great Northern Beans
1/2 pound diced ham
1 diced onion
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 Tbl molasses
2 Tbl Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dry mustard
Soak the beans in cold water overnight. The next day, simmer them for about 2 hours (they will still probably be firm). Drain and reserve the water.
Combine beans with the diced ham and diced onion in a 2 quart (or larger) casserole dish. Bring the remaining ingredients to a boil in a saucepan. Pour the sauce over the bean mixture. Add enough reserved water to cover the beans.
Cover with a lid or foil and bake about 4 hours (until beans are tender) in a preheated 325 degree oven. After about 2 hours, remove the lid. Add more reserved water if necessary. In other words add enough water to keep the beans covered.
If you want to, you may simmer the beans longer than 2 hours and reduce the baking time. But, more time in the sauce (while in the oven) results in more concentrated flavor.
You can also use pinto beans, navy beans, or other beans as you prefer. Using beef stock instead of water is another option to add more flavor.
Instead of ham, how about bacon or slow smoked pulled pork, or whatever else you like. If you don't like onion... leave it out. Add a little garlic if you like that. If it's too sweet, cut the brown sugar back to 1/4 cup.
Work with it. Get another drink. Perfect it. Get it how you like it. It may turn into one of your family traditions.