For years baked beans and I weren’t friends. Sweet beans, who needed ’em? My mom never fixed them, so I gracefully avoided them at all the barbeques I went to growing up. I equated them with hot dogs. (Yes, my mama raised me right; but this was before the days of organic grass-fed hot dogs.)
One fateful day while visiting family what was being served around the table? None other than my dear enemy: baked beans. I respectfully added a spoonful to my plate.
They weren’t as bad as I thought.
During the next few days I was fed baked beans three more times at different family gatherings (those Missourians love their baked beans), and by that point I decided that I liked them.
After reading a few recipes online that called for a can of pork and beans and store bought BBQ sauce, I knew that I needed to make my own, real-food style. So began my experiments making nourishing baked beans. No processed food, just pure and simple ingredients.
This dish is a winner with most of my “family” which is saying a lot when you are raising a gaggle of girls. If one out of ten doesn’t care for them, I think I’ve done pretty good. We do live in Mexico, after all, where beans are savory and soda is sweet — and did I mention that it took me 25 years to like my beans sweet?
One of the things I love about these nourishing baked beans is that you don’t need to bake them. You can simmer them on the stove and have an equally tasty dish. (I do still prefer to bake mine, but if that’s not your cup of tea then no worries! This is a versatile dish!)
Nourishing Baked Beans
3 cups uncooked navy beans (or 2 – 15 oz cans)*
1 can tomato sauce
1 large yellow onion, diced
5 slices bacon
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 TBS molasses
2 TBS maple syrup
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
* I prefer to make beans from scratch and soak them overnight to save money and to make them more digestible. After soaking them, I make my beans in crockpot. (If you are cooking your own beans, follow my crockpot recipe and then come back to this recipe.)
1. Heat a large oven-proof skillet (I prefer cast iron) over medium heat. Add the bacon, reduce to low heat and cook until almost crisp. Remove the bacon, leaving the bacon grease in the skillet.
2. Add the onions and garlic, and saute until almost translucent.
3. While the onions are cooking, mix the tomato sauce, molasses, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, black pepper, mustard, salt and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Wisk together and set aside.
4. Once the onions and garlic are cooked, chop the bacon and add it to the skillet.
5. Add the sauce mixture and beans to the skillet. Stir and cook over medium heat until warm.
6. Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 20 minutes (optional).
Serve at your next BBQ with the family!