I’m not sure what the weather has been like by you, but this winter has been so ridiculously mild. I’m someone who loves winter for the cold and the snow. Being able to go for a run in my shorts and to relax at home with the screen-door open, well, it throws me off. Despite this, I still crave the big, bold, hearty flavors you would find in winter food; something to warm your insides…even if they’re already pretty warm.
When I was young, on a rare occasion, my mom would put together a quick and simple treat for dinner: frank and beans. No its not fancy and yes, many people will lift up their nose at the thought. I loved it. Not really sure why–maybe it was just how infrequently it was a dinner option, but it was just one of those dinners that hit the spot. So I thought I would totally miss the point and make a fancified version of this classic dish. Its not as quick and cheap as the original, but it will still totally hit the spot.
The real star in this dish: the baked beans. No cans here. You put some love into these beans and it shows–they’re full of pork, smoke, spice, and everything nice. It all begins with making a barbecue sauce that will reach out and punch you in the face. This is also not a drab looking sea of brown with a few odd hunks of hot dog–these zesty beans are vibrant with color and very visible chunks of deliciousness as well as the requisite hot dogs, of course. I garnished with some briefly sautéed jalapeño rings and some fried, crispy onions.
I was very inspired by this incredible recipe for baked beans.
- 1/2 lb great northern beans
- 1/4 lb kidney beans
- 3/4 cup ketchup
- 1 can stewed tomato (slightly chunky)
- 1/3 cup molasses
- 3/4 tsp yellow mustard
- 3/4 Tbsp worcetershire
- 1.5 Tbsp spice mix
- brown sugar
- onion powder
- garlic powder
- ground mustard
- dried thyme
- crushed red pepper
- celery seeds
- ground chipotle
- 3/4 Tbsp ancho
- 1 onion
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 jalapeño peppers
- 1/4 lb of bacon
- 1/4 lb of any miscellaneous pork chunks you can find (smoked hocks, more bacon, etc–smoked is the key)
- 1 lb hotdogs
Begin by soaking the great northern beans and kidney beans in a large pot (I just use a Dutch oven) covered with a few inches of water. Let this sit overnight.
The next day, drain the beans and cover once again with water by about an inch or two. Heat to a boil and then drop to a simmer, letting this go for an hour. Skim any scum that forms on the surface, and if things start to dry some, add more water to ensure that the beans stay covered at all times.
While the beans simmer, you should prepare the sauce.
In a large bowl, mix the ketchup, tomato sauce, brown sugar, mustard, chili powder, spice mix, worcestershire sauce, and molasses.
In a separate pan, cook the bacon, setting aside to drain on a paper towel once cooked through. Sauté the diced onion and peppers in the bacon grease for about 10 minutes, adding the minced garlic for a minute further. Empty the contents of the pan into the sauce bowl.
Once the beans are done simmering, reserve 1.5 cups of the water and add it to the sauce bowl. Mix this up a good bit. Pour the beans into whatever pot/pan you’ll ultimately bake them in and cover them with the contents of the sauce bowl. Let this rest in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably several hours.
Finally, onto the last step: baking the beans! Mix those random smoked pork hunks (chopped into bite-size chunks) into the beans (you want to impart more smokey flavor) and bake at 350°F for 1.5 hours. Then, dice up your hot dogs into bite-sized pieces and add them into the mix, baking for another 30 minutes further.
At this point, grab yourself a portion and dig in. Enjoy!