Today’s delicious dish – Stovetop Baked Beans
Authentic baked beans are a wonderful New England staple side dish. They go well with a variety of foods and are great hot or cold. However, they take more time than you might think, and some people believe you need a special bean pot to make them right. The old-fashioned way to make baked beans involves an overnight soak of dry navy beans, a morning simmer with fresh water and baking soda, and then a long time in the oven with a tasty sauce. I often don’t have time for that. Instead, I developed a recipe that gets made on the stovetop in under 45 minutes, using canned beans.
I confess, I love canned beans. They are inexpensive, nutritious, and easy to keep on hand. This recipe uses a variety of canned beans, including regular pork and beans, Great Northern beans, small red beans, and garbanzo beans. I like how this gives the dish variety in taste and texture. The first step is to drain away all the sauce and liquid from the canned beans. The sauce in canned pork and beans is, in my opinion, not very good – it’s runny and blah. I make up a flavorful sauce with vinegar, brown sugar, ketchup, and spices, and reheat the beans in it. I also add bacon to make it extra-delicious.
I keep bacon in the freezer for use in cooking. I freeze the whole package, and when I use it the first time, I cut the pound into 4 equal pieces. I think it is easier to cut bacon when it is frozen. Thereafter, it is no problem to grab a 1/4 pound hunk of frozen bacon and do whatever I want with it.
You should feel free to substitute other canned beans in this recipe. Pork and beans are made from navy beans (sometimes called small white beans), which are the smallest, and tend to be almost overcooked and mushy. Great Northern beans are a bit bigger, and are a bit firmer. The small red beans are a bit bigger yet, and have a nice contrasting color. Garbanzo beans are quite firm, even with long cooking. You could also try cannellini beans, pinto beans, or black-eyed peas. I think black beans go less well in this dish, because they have a distinctive dark flavor. I would also stay away from kidney beans, because they can be tough, and can make the dish seem like chili.
I think distilled white vinegar is best in this recipe. If you don’t have some, get it – it has a multitude of uses in cooking and in cleaning. In a pinch, apple cider vinegar will do. If you don’t have celery seed, you can omit it, or substitute the same amount of celery salt (which is just ground up celery seed and salt blended together).
If you need to make this a meatless dish, use vegetarian baked beans and omit the bacon. You will need more cooking time so the sauce can thicken up. If you need this dish to be gluten free, don’t use canned pork and beans – get canned navy beans. Also look for gluten-free Worcestershire sauce and ketchup.
As you make this dish, there will seem to be too much liquid before you add the bacon and bacon grease. But don’t worry, once those are added and you do a little more cooking, the sauce will thicken and coat the beans well.
Stovetop Baked Beans
- 28 ounce can Pork & Beans
- 15.5 ounce can Great Northern Beans
- 15.5 ounce can Small Red Beans
- 15.5 ounce can Chick Peas (Garbanzo Beans)
- 1/4 pound (4 ounces) thick cut sliced bacon
- 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
- 2/3 cup brown sugar (packed)
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
- 1 dash cayenne pepper
- 1/4 cup ketchup
Empty cans of beans into a colander and let drain completely. Discard bean liquid. Discard any pieces of pork fat that are found among beans.
Cut bacon in the opposite direction of the slices, about 1/2” wide, to make medium-small bits. Put into a skillet on medium heat. Cook until crispy, stirring often to prevent burning and to separate bits. When bacon is almost completely cooked to crisp bits, remove skillet from heat and set aside.
While bacon cooks and beans drain, whisk together vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and spices in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Whisk in ketchup and mix well. Boil for 2 minutes.
Fold drained beans into boiling liquid in saucepan and turn down burner. Cook mixture on medium heat, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir contents of skillet (crisp bacon bits and bacon grease) into beans. Turn down burner and simmer gently for another 15 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Keep warm until ready to serve.
Makes 11 servings, each a generous 1/2 cup.
Nutritional information (per serving): 234 calories, 3 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 10 grams protein, 42 grams carbohydrate, 18 grams sugars, 9 grams fiber, 4 milligrams cholesterol, 408 milligrams sodium
Cost per serving: 70 cents
Preparation time: 40 minutes
What happens next?
These beans will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. They are easy to reheat, and can also be eaten cold. They can be frozen too. If you want to make something that seems new, you can mix them with sliced hot dogs and heat them up to make a version of beans and weenies. That’s what gave me the idea for the next recipe; I nearly always set aside 3 servings of these beans to make it.
Another day’s delicious dish – Bean and Hot Dog Cups
Here’s a recipe that is fun to make and fun to eat. You prepare a dough that is a little bit biscuity and a little bit cornbready, pat it out into circles, and line muffin cups with it. Then you fill these with a mixture of Stovetop Baked Beans, diced hot dogs, and ketchup, and bake for a short time. If you are careful, you can eat these out of your hand!
I use the cheapest (which seem to also be the smallest) hot dogs in this recipe, but you should use any you prefer. If you are using bigger hot dogs, you may need to use fewer of them – you just need about 9 ounces for this recipe.
If you don’t have any Stovetop Baked Beans saved, you can still make this recipe. Just drain a 28 ounce can of any baked beans (that should give you about 1 1/2 cups of beans), and you will be ready to proceed.
Bean and Hot Dog Cups
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 6 Tablespoons butter
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 6 hot dogs (about 9 ounces)
- 3 servings (about 1 1/2 cups) Stovetop Baked Beans
- 1/4 cup ketchup
Turn on oven to 400 degrees.
In a medium bowl, using a fork, combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and baking soda. Melt butter by microwaving for 30 seconds. Set aside. With a fork, beat together egg and buttermilk until smooth. Add melted butter and beat to combine – the mixture will appear to curdle a bit. Add liquid to dry ingredients and stir to combine. Turn dough onto a lightly-floured surface. Knead dough a few times, to give it a smooth consistency, adding a small amount of flour if necessary to take away stickiness. Dough should be soft.
Lightly grease the wells of a regular-sized 12-muffin pan. Divide dough into 12 equal parts – each about 2 Tablespoons. Make each chunk of dough into a ball, then press out and pat into a thin circle, about 4” across. Fit each dough circle into a muffin well, pressing down to bottom.
Cut hot dogs in half the long way, then slice into 1/4” thick half-circles. Microwave Stovetop Baked Beans for 2 minutes. Fold together warmed beans, diced hot dogs, and ketchup, and microwave this mixture for 3 minutes, until very hot. Stir well. Put about 1/4 cup of bean and hot dog mixture into each dough cup.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Makes 12 bean and hot dog cups.
Nutritional information (per bean and hot dog cup): 260 calories, 12 grams fat, 5.5 grams saturated fat, 7 grams protein, 31 grams carbohydrate, 8 grams sugars, 3 grams fiber, 63 milligrams cholesterol, 544 milligrams sodium
Cost per serving: 49 cents
Preparation time: 30 minutes