Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Holiday Beans

I wrote the following dinner report last year, but I never got around to posting it.  I stumbled across it the other day (virtually speaking--it's on my computer) and thought I'd post it.  

Well, it's been an age since I last posted.  I apologize for the long delay in posts.  It's not that I haven't been cooking or eating dinner; it's just the I've been wrapped up in moving, starting a new job, learning a new job, and generally getting used to my new life and routine.  Now that I've finished my first semester as a college librarian, I have 5 wonderful weeks off to celebrate Christmas with (some of) my family, visit my friends, and then enjoy my birthday before heading back to Spring semester 2012.

Since I last posted, I have cooked quite a bit.  I've made some old favorites like chili, scotch broth, spaghetti, and linguine carbonara.  I've also made stuffed pasta shells and a ton of cookies for various Christmas gatherings for work as well as the famous Praline Pumpkin Torte.

One of my favorite things to make for family holiday get-togethers is the doctored up baked beans that were one of my dad's favorites.  He really liked baked beans in most forms, but he always said these were his favorite.  I just wish he could be here this year to have them again.  The beans are pretty simple to make, starting with canned beans and adding a few ingredients, but the result is so good.

Alex's Christmas Beans

8 oz bacon, regular--not thick cut
1 large yellow onion, finely minced
2 large (28 oz.) cans Bush's Original Baked Beans
Yellow Mustard
Brown sugar

Chop or snip the bacon in to very small pieces.  I like to use a pair of kitchen shears as they make short work of the bacon.  Over medium heat, saute in a large, deep saucepan, stockpot, or dutch oven until bacon is just barely crispy and most of the fat has rendered out.  Scoop out the bacon with a slotted spoon and allow to drain on a paper-towel covered plate.  Pour out all but about 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat.  Add the onion and cook until soft and beginning to turn a caramel color.  

Once the onion is completely soft, pour in the two cans of beans, liquid and all. Stir to incorporate the onions throughout.  Add 2 Tbsp yellow mustard and 1/4 cup brown sugar and stir to combine well.  Stir in the bacon pieces.  Heat to bubbly, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste the beans.  They should have a sweet, mellow smoky flavor with a bit of tang.  Adjust as needed with either mustard or brown sugar and allow to simmer for another 30 minutes to 1 hour.  These beans can just sit on the stove simmering while you prepare the rest of the dinner.  These are especially good served with ham and cornbread.

Thanks for reading.  I'm going to be trying a couple new recipes this week, so I hope to add 1 or 2 additional posts soon.  I'm making Bacon, Lentil, and Spinach Stew and Chicken and Leek Pie from my new cookbook, "One Pot of the Day: 365 Recipes for Every Day of the Year."  I'll also be roasting a chicken with lemon and fresh herbs, (I'll use the leftovers for the pie.) and doing some roasted root vegetables or maybe a vegetable curry.  I love fall!

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