Earlier this year, the litte man and I road-tripped across the state for my cousin's high school graduation. In North Dakota, the standard graduation celebration is the afternoon open house. They're casual, laid-back, and full of food.
My uncle did the cooking for the open house, and he made a huge pot of baked beans that included a few varieties of beans. And the little man went nuts for them. (I may have mentioned once or twice or 641 times that he loves beans.) I typically make my baked beans on the stovetop, and they're quite BBQ-y and cooked down. These, on the other hand, didn't have any overwhelming flavors. And the beans still retained their shape and some firmness, so they were easy for the little man to pick up with his fingers. (For those who enjoy eating baked beans using silverware, that still works, too.)
When I asked my uncle for the recipe, he couldn't quite remember where he got it. He says he typically types a recipe name into a search engine and attempts the most popular recipe. (Hey, whatever works.) I found a similar version on allrecipes.com, and made some modifications to it to suit our tastes. And, because the recipe still relies on canned beans, everything bakes up really quickly.
Oven Baked Beans
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound bacon, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup barbecue sauce (I typically use Famous Dave's Rich & Sassy)
A few dashes of liquid smoke
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 16-ounce can pork and beans, undrained
1 16-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 16-ounce can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 2 1/2-quart baking dish, or spray it with cooking spray.
2. In a large skillet, cook beef, bacon, and onion until meat is done and onion is tender. Drain any fat.
Please pretend there is bacon here. I didn't have any thawed, and the beans are still quite good without the bacon. Of course, as with most foods, they do taste best with bacon.
3. Combine all remaining ingredients except beans.
4. Add to meat mixture and mix well. Stir in beans. Pour mixture into prepared dish.
5. Bake, covered, for 1 hour or until heated through and bubbly.