In my quest to eat healthy 80% of the time, I rarely cook or keep certain foods around the house for fear – nay, knowing – that my lack of self control around them will no doubt tip the scales in the exact opposite direction, sending me straight into I need dis mode. Such foods include:
Chips. Any and all kinds, but especially kettle cooked BBQ and Cheddar & Sour Cream Ruffles. They have this crazy schnauzer effect on me, aka I could eat them until I explode.
Dried apricots. Sure, a small handful qualifies as a healthy snack – but half the bag? Not so much.
Summer sausage. I know.
Pasta. Preferably white and copious.
Graham crackers. Especially when there’s white frosting involved.
Judy’s Baked Beans. Ahhhh, sweet, salty, luscious Judy’s Baked Beans! Another one of my Mom’s recipes that I grew up eating…and eating…and eating… My appetite knows no bounds when it comes to this 4th of July-friendly side dish, but they are well worth the occasional splurge.
What’s makes Judy’s Baked Beans so special is the addition of contrasting flavors like sweet brown sugar and crushed pineapple, and savory steak sauce and kielbasa in the mix. They are seriously the best baked beans to ever cross my lips.
The recipe comes from my Mom’s aunt’s friend’s cousin’s uncle’s dentist. You know – one of those recipes. We still have no idea who Judy is but, dangit, we sure do love her beans!
They’re really easy to make, too. Start with 3lbs VanCamp’s Pork & Beans. The name is weird because there’s actually less than 2% pork in the beans, but whatevs! Locals: these are on sale at Dahl’s 2/$1 right now!
Drain off some of the liquid in the can, then pour the beans into a large bowl.
Next add 1 large chopped onion, and 1 can crushed pineapple that’s been drained.
Thenn add more sweet and savory ingredients like 1/2 cup brown sugar, 3 Tablespoons steak sauce, and 1 Tablespoon regular mustard.
I know, me too!
Stir everything together to combine.
Next chop 1 package kielbasa and stir it into the mix. I halve then quarter the kilebasa to get nice, bite-sized pieces. (PS this is my favorite part of the beans!)
Pour the beans into a non-stick sprayed 9×13 baking dish (I made a half recipe when I was taking photos so what you see below is an 8×8.)
Layer 1/2 package bacon on top, then slather the bacon with 3/4 cup ketchup. Gee, no wonder I like these beans so much – they’re covered in bacon!
Bake for 2 hours at 350 degrees until the bacon is deeply caramelized. I didn’t let mine get that deep because, well, I was hungry and you seriously have no idea how intoxicatingly delicious these smell while cooking! But for reals, wait ’til it’s deeply caramelized. You’ll be glad ya’ did.
Let the beans sit at room temperature for 10 minutes after baking, then ladle ‘em up.
Judy’s Baked Beans
Serves 8-10 as a side dish
3lbs VanCamp’s pork & beans
1 large onion, chopped
1 small can crushed pineapple, slightly drained
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 Tablespoons steak sauce
1 Tablespoon mustard
1 package kielbasa, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 package bacon
3/4 cup ketchup
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain some of the liquid off the top of the can of beans then mix with onion, crushed pineapple, brown sugar, steak sauce, mustard, and kielbasa in a large bowl. Pour mixture into a non-stick sprayed 9×13 baking dish then lay bacon strips across the top. Spread ketchup on top of the bacon and bake for 2 hours, or until the top is deeply caramelized. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Creamy, sweet – not too sweet! – and so rich and satisfying. Like I said – no self control around these babies!
I usually enjoy an occasional bowl of ‘em at my parent’s house in the summertime, when my Mom makes a big batch for my birthday or a special BBQ, but sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind and bake a big, self-control defying batch yourself. Holla!
I hear this recipe freezes well, but if my licked plate is any indication, I doubt we’ll ever know for sure.
I hope you enjoyed this week of 4th of July inspired recipes including Key West Grilled Chicken, Dirt Cake, and Grilled Steak Tacos with Chipotle Cherry Salsa. Whatever it is you end up eating on Independence Day – enjoy it!
What’s your kitchen kryptonite? The stuff you know you can’t keep in the house?