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141Okay, these aren’t necessarily “baked” beans.  They can be, if that’s what you want to do and you have the time.  Otherwise, make this “quick and dirty” version in about 20 minutes.  They have tons of flavor and if you toss some cut-up hot dogs into the mix, cook some rice, add a tossed salad or green veggie, you can have dinner on the table in under 30 minutes.  It doesn’t get too much faster than that, does it?  The Goddess really does love pork and beans, but I’ve never really thought that the little nugget of pork belly that’s in each can should really count as “pork”, but they’re still good.  Kids and men love this.  Particularly when you add the hot dogs or Little Smokies to the mix.

This calls for a charred onion.  It’s simple to do.  All you need is a hot cast iron skillet or griddle, a metal spatula, a watchful eye and about 5-6 minutes.  Cast iron works best and will get nice and hot, which is what you want.  Don’t add any oil, because you want the sugars to brown and caramelize.  109You just slap the onion slices on the pan, lower the heat to medium and wait.  It only takes a few minutes per side, but remember to leave the slice alone; don’t be moving them around or they won’t brown well.  113When they’re browned to you liking, flip them over and brown the second side.  If you have space in your pan, do 2 onions and throw the other one in plastic bag in the fridge.  You can toss it in any number of sauces or sautés.

Jazzed-Up Baked Beans

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Super Easy
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  • 1 onion, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices and charred
  • 1 (28-ounce) can basic pork & beans, undrained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained
  • 3-5 tablespoons cooked, crumbled bacon (add whatever amount you want)
  • 2-3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 3-4 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 2-3 teaspoons yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

To Char the Onion:  Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat.  Place the onion slices on the hot pan and lower the heat to medium; leave for at least 2 minutes without moving.  Using a metal spatula, lift and check for brownness.  There should be a slight char on each slice; do not burn.  Turn when desired brownness is reached.  Leave the slices along for at least 3 minutes.  When browned to your liking, remove to a cutting board and dice.

For the Beans:  In a medium saucepan, add both cans of beans, the diced onion and the remaining ingredients; stir until well combined.  Lower the heat and simmer the beans, stirring frequently to prevent them from sticking and burning to the bottom of the pan.  Simmer gently for 10-15 minutes.  Serve immediately.

NOTE:   If you choose to use vegetarian baked beans, omit the bacon and use a couple of drops of liquid smoke, if you want a smoky flavor.  If you wish to bake these, pour into an oven-proof dish and place 3-4 slices of bacon on top of the beans.  Sprinkle with some browned sugar; do not stir.  Place in a 400°F oven for 30-40 minutes or until the bacon is crispy and the sugar caramelizes.  This works great in winter.  For a complete and quick dinner, cook hot dog slices (about 1-inch thick) with the beans.  Serve with rice and some diced, raw onion.

Jazzed-Up Baked Beans Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2015.  All rights reserved.

127It takes longer to char the onions than it does to put this together.  And you quite literally toss everything into the pot, lower the heat and let it simmer until the beans thicken up a bit.  Be sure to taste them.  You want the sweet/sharp balance to be good.  And, that’s pretty much all there is to it.  You can put this mixture in the oven, and if you do, sprinkle some brown sugar or maple sugar over the top, and it  will sort of caramelize and get all yummy.  But, you don’t have to heat the kitchen up in the summer to have really good and tasty “baked” beans.