As a kid, Friday night suppers were no surprise...Boston Baked Beans, Hot Dogs and, sometimes, Brown read! AND for years...I hated BEANS! My Mom always served B&M brand and I just never understood why my Dad loved them so. The best part for me was the canned Brown Bread...we didn't get it every week though because it wasn't cheap and with four kids in the house one can didn't go far...it was almost like having desert when you ate it warm with butter ;)
Images from the web.
Then, when I moved out on my own and began cooking in my own kitchen, I found a recipe from McCall's magazine (no longer in print thanks to Rosie ;( for Baked Beans in a bean pot along with homemade molasses brown bread in tin cans. I soon understood New Englander's obsession with beans...you can flavor them any way you like and they cook all day long in the oven or on top of a wood stove and make the house smell wonderful on those long, cold winter days. THAT is what I was not getting from my mom opening up her B&M brand, can of beans!
When I married my DH I became the proud owner of my mother-in-laws, family bean crock...for those of you not familiar with a bean crock...they are salt-glazed pottery, with one or two handles for easy lifting near the top of the smaller, mouth of the pot where the lid sits. This is what mine looked like:
Find them here: Best of New England, ha!
WAS...being the operative word here...I no longer bake my own beans ;) For about five years I made baked beans, and played, and tweaked my recipe to get the sweet, bar-b-que flavor that I preferred over the heavy, dark molasses flavor of my Mom's preferred B&M brand. BUT many times they would come out terrible...I mean HARD as rocks! I tried everything and everyone's remedies...from soaking over-night, to not soaking over-night, to soaking in baking soda, to pre-boiling and skimming off the scum, to not pre-boiling...I TRIED IT ALL! The worst part was that it took ALOT OF TIME and INGREDIENTS to make homemade beans and then at the end of it all...you discover that you just spend nearly 24 hours to rinse, soak, pre-boil and bake beans that came out tasing like sweet, dried-out, HARD as BB-gun pellets...I was DONE!
ABOUT that time we moved from New Hampshire to North Carolina and I sold the bean pot! After all it was too hot to be baking beans in the oven all day in NC! Winters are very short here...yeah! AND then I discovered a new brand of canned beans that tasted like I like them...tangy, sweet bar-b-que! BUSH vegetarian style beans...they must be a Southern thang, cause you do not find B&M Baked Beans much around here in many grocery stores.
So what Works-for-Me NOW when it comes to baked beans...just a few key ingredients:
1 Can of Bush's Black Beans (they are good for you ;)
1 Yellow Onion
1 dozen whole cloves
1 Can Opener and Covered Casserole Dish (or electric slow-cooker)
1.) OPEN your can of baked beans...fat free...that's makes me feel better!
3. OPEN up the can of black beans...completely removing the top of the can...
4. DRAIN your black beans over the sink by pushing down on the can cover that you completely removed in the previous step...see you need to follow the directions completely ;)...because I don't like the black bean juice...it looks dirty! You could rinse them in a colander if you'd like and this would make you feel like you are actually cooking beans the traditional way...lol
6. MIX together your black beans and your baked beans...AGAIN...brings back the memories of cooking bean the traditional way...remember...stirring the beans every hour and adding liquid so they wouldn't dry out...ahhh
7. CUT off the ends of your yellow onion and peel away the outer layer of onion skin.
9. PLACE clove-studded onion into the middle of the bean pot.
10. COVER casserole dish and place inside a 300-degree oven for an hour or SO. If you are using an electric, slow-cooker, then set it on low for an hour or SO!
THAT's ALL FOLKS! After a half-hour or so the onion starts to blend in with the beans and it makes your kitchen smell wonderful! Whenever I wanted to grab my boys attention when they are home...I either start sauteing onions or bacon and they come...running...out of the wood-work!
Which, by-the-way, you can always add some bacon to your beans for additional flavor...but I was going for the low-fat, no-fat version this week ;) You can discard the onion before serving if you'd like, but my boys love to remove the cloves and cut it up and eat it with their beans. You can also just use two cans of baked beans if you don't like black beans. I have taken these baked beans to many bar-b-ques and so many people think that I have slaved...like I use to...over these for hours...not any more! Cause doctoring up Bush's Baked Beans THAT is WHAT Works-for-Me!