Baked beans can be a very western thing. Until I moved to Alberta, I’d never really seen them on a menu as a side dish. How often do we hear about a cowboy heating a can of beans for his supper, perhaps over a fire? There’s a LaVyrle Spencer book I love, called Forgiving, and set in 1800’s Deadwood. When the bachelor hero has to cook for himself because he and the heroine are on the outs, someone comments that him sitting down to dinner with his can of beans is about the loneliest thing there is.
We used to go to barbecues or Stampede Breakfasts and a healthy scoop of baked beans along with whatever was being served was quite the norm.
Baked beans aren’t unique to the West, however. Take, for example, Boston Baked Beans and brown bread (which they steam in a can). In fact, the contest for the New England RWA Chapter is called The Beanpot and the trophy is indeed a cute little beanpot!
I’m from the East Coast of Canada and baked beans were a Saturday night staple. My mom put a pot of beans in the oven in the morning and baked fresh brown bread (though not in a can, but a regular loaf pan). To be honest, I got a little sick of beans every darned week.
So now we eat them less frequently – maybe once or twice a winter, or we’ll cheat and buy the canned version (my youngest LOVES the maple style, pretty Canadian, eh?). I recently got a wonderful recipe though, and I love it. I think the “regular” version I grew up with was missing some zip, but this bean recipe that I got from my friend Patsy are delish. The recipe calls for navy beans, but I usually use yellow eye or soldier.
Ready? It makes enough to feed 6-8 hungry cowpokes.
Patsy’s Baked Beans
4 cups dry navy beans
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp dry mustard
1/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup barbecue sauce
1/3 cup fancy molasses
6 slices bacon, cut in 1 inch strips
1 medium onion (whole)
Soak beans overnight, drain, and add fresh water. Bring to a boil and boil 1 hour. Drain, reserving liquid.
Place in roaster. Add bacon and onion.
Mix remaining ingredients, add 2 cups of liquid and add to beans. Bake at 325 degrees for 6 hours, adding more liquid as needed.
If you want to make this in the crock pot, you may not need to add water during cooking. Cook on high for four hours, then turn back to low for the last two hours.
Enjoy with brown bread or corn bread!
Donna’s latest release is A COWBOY TO COME HOME TO, the fourth title in her Cadence Creek Cowboys series, out now. You can catch up with her at www.donnaalward.com. Post a comment for a chance to win a kindle copy of Donna’s book!