Baked beans are a favorite at my house. And since I am a Texan, I add meat to everything, even side dishes. That’s an exaggeration (because in Texas we also exaggerate). Almost any kind of bean is good for baking – pinto beans, cannellini beans, kidney beans, navy beans, black beans, Great Northern – you name it. This recipe layers richness and extra flavor to the beans. Baked beans take some planning; this is not something you can throw together and have for dinner in an hour. But totally worth the time.
- 1 pound dried cannellini beans (or whatever dried bean you like)
- 1/2 pound thick-cut bacon, chopped into 1 inch pieces
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup mustard (yellow or dark – your choice)
- One of the reasons you can’t rush dried beans is that they have to soak. Soaking removes the gassy ingredients, so don’t skip this step. If you’re going to make the beans the next day, you can put them in a pan or bowl, add enough water to cover them by 2-3 inches, and put the pan in the fridge overnight.
- Alternatively, you can quick-soak the beans. Rinse them, place them in a heavy soup or stock pot, and cover with 2-3 inches of water. Bring to a boil on the stove, boil for 3 minutes, then turn off the heat and let them sit for an hour. Drain into a colander or strainer.
- Return your soaked and drained beans to the pot. Add water to cover the beans. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour. You may have to add water occasionally to keep the beans covered.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, cook your bacon and ground beef. Crumble beef as it cooks.
- When beef is brown, drain excess fat and return the skillet to the stove. Add chopped onion and bell pepper. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, until vegetables are starting to soften.
- Add garlic, vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard. Stir until combined.
- After an hour of cooking, the beans should be mostly softened. Drain beans, reserving the cooking liquid, and return beans to the pot.
- Add your meat mixture and stir gently to combine. Add a generous sprinkle of salt and black pepper.
- Now it’s time to bake. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. If your stock pot is oven-safe, you can bake the beans in this. If not, pour the beans into a large casserole dish.
- Bake for 1-2 hours (depending on the size and type of bean). You may need to add back some of the cooking liquid from the beans as they bake, so they don’t dry out. You’re done when the beans are chewy enough to suit you. Now add salt and pepper as needed.
These beans are so flavorful, but they are also starchy and sweet, so you want to eat small servings and combine with a main dish of a good protein. Baked beans are a perfect complement to barbecued brisket, burgers, pork chops, meatloaf, even eggs. You will want to make these over and over. Experiment with different beans and find your favorites.