Almost thirty years ago, on a Sunday, Mrs went into labour, and we gathered the stuff she and I needed and drove to the hospital. It was a long labour, but all went well, and our daughter was born early the next morning. Walking into the hospital, Mrs carried a day bag with her essentials, while I cradled a Tupperware container filled with homemade baked beans and some bread. She was ushered away by nurses, and I was directed towards the dads’ lounge. That Sunday was the day of the Canadian Football League’s 81st Grey Cup, and the game was just starting as I microwaved my beans. I was the only dad-to-be in the lounge, so I had the TV and the game to myself. I checked in with Mrs regularly, but things were taking a while. I was able to watch the better part of a 33-23 victory by Edmonton over the Winnipeg and still be present beside Mrs on that blessed early Monday morning.
I am a big fan of baked beans. Alone with fresh-baked bread it is my favorite meal, but if you want to add a steak and some Cole slaw then I will become enraptured. Folks serve baked beans as a side for roasts – turkey and ham in particular. My lone visit to KC included a dinner at Jack Stack restaurant at the Freight House, and I made sure to order baked beans along with the ribs. Especially in the wintertime, a steaming bowl of baked beans does wonders to warm the bones and raise spirits. There are recipes which employ a tomato-based sauce for the beans, however I prefer a batch made with molasses, brown sugar and maple syrup along with Worcestershire sauce and maybe a dollop of ketchup. In any case, adding a spot of dark rum adds depth to the creation. No doubt some of you include baked beans in your tailgating menu, and you have your tried and true recipes. We have used the following recipe many times, so give it a try if you like. Good eats, and go Chiefs!
All-American Baked Beans
1 pound dried navy or Great Northern beans
8 ounces slab smoked bacon, cut into 1/4 -inch cubes
1 cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 cups (packed) dark brown sugar
2 cups ketchup
6 tablespoons maple syrup
6 tablespoons dark molasses
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Rinse and pick through the beans. Soak them overnight in a large pot of water.
- Rinse the soaked beans well under cold water, and place them in a heavy sauce pan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid.
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place a 2-quart flameproof casserole or dutch oven over medium heat and sauté the bacon until it is slightly crisp and fat is rendered, 5 minutes. Add the onions and garlic, and cook until wilted, 5 to 10 minutes.
- Add the brown sugar and stir over medium-low heat until it has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Then stir in the ketchup, syrup, molasses, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper. Add the drained beans and mix well.
- Cover the casserole and transfer it to the oven. Bake, stirring occasionally (making sure you scrape the bottom of the casserole), for about 2 1/2 hours.
- Add 3/4 cup of the reserved bean liquid, recover, and bake for 30 minutes. Then remove the cover and bake until the sauce is thick and syrupy, another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring once. Serve hot.
10 to 12 portions
The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins, 1989, Workman Publishing Company, Inc. 708 Broadway, New York, NY; pages 324-325.
Note: We double the amount of bacon, reduce to 1/2 cup the amount of brown sugar, and include 1/2 cup of dark rum along with the reserved bean liquid in step 7.