One-Skillet Baked Beans

Forget the talking dog.

Let the construction paper and paste-packin’ kindergartener keep her bag of dried beans.

That killer cook-out companion is easier than you think.

Good baked beans just need some finesse.

There’s nothing worse than a dish of watery, bland brown beads.

You want that proper pairing of sweet and tangy. You want a slightly thick and creamy sauce. You want richness. You want to feel naughty.

I don’t like to start a batch of baked beans with pork and beans. I feel gross saying the words, “Pork and beans.” I don’t know why. I just do.
That little chunk of rubbery, striped pork makes me want to wretch. I’m just not a fan. So I skip this age-old concoction. Sorry.

Simplicity is key here. I mean, this is backyard food. You don’t want some complicated creation that takes you away from the party, right?

I took a few shortcuts. I used chili beans in sauce. The sauce includes tomato puree and spices. More bang for your buck.

I also used the ingredients to make a basic barbecue sauce. Sure you could use the bottled gunk, but why would you, given what’s normally in it? I put Worcestershire into the mix because it adds that little something extra, a depth of flavor you can’t get your guests to guess. The recipe uses just one cast iron skillet. You’re not transferring the baked beans to a baking dish or anything like that. The dish cooks low and slow for one hour. You play while the beans get down to business. Easy!

Here’s what you need:
1 can of chili beans in sauce
1 can of great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 sweet onion, diced
1 Tbsp. butter
1 /4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup REAL maple syrup
½ cup ketchup
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
3-4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 325.

Put a medium-sized cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the butter.

Then add the diced onion. Stir. Add a pinch of salt and let it cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes. You want the onion to soften.

This is important: Make sure your great northern beans are drained and rinsed. They are not in a flavorful sauce. They sit in a salty, goopy, gunk that’ll muck up your meal.

Add the drained and rinsed great northern beans and the chili beans (sauce and all) to the pan. Stir.

Add the remaining ingredients and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Stir.

Put the skillet in the oven and let it cook for 1 hour.

Using a potholder, remove the skillet from the oven. Leave the handle covered. There’s nothing worse than grabbing a hot pan. I promise.

Stir and serve.

I love the combination of the red and white beans. Baked beans are usually one drab color. Boring.

There’s no bacon here. Did you notice? I didn’t. You don’t need it.

What you do need is willpower. Without it you’ll want to polish off the pan.

I knew this was a good batch when my partner in cuisine crime cleared his plate and said, “Did you write down this recipe?”

Tip: If you’d like baked beans with a kick, add a Tbsp. of Sriracha, a Tbsp. of adobo from a can of chipotles, or add 1 diced jalapeño to the onions at the beginning of the recipe.


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