Blazing Beans

Do you remember the first time you saw Blazing Saddles?  I hope it was in the movie theatre because I recently saw it on TV.  Let me say, Blazing Saddles with the offensive words beeped out is nothing but conjunctions, pronouns, prepositions and occasional nouns.  Pretty much the really interesting words; the verbs, adverbs, adjectives and interjections are not suitable for television.

Baked Beans w/Bacon

(Photo credit: Jeff Cushner)

Beans that Talk Back

What’s left?  Baked beans are what is left.  Since its premier in 1974 even a casual viewer of the movie can describe Mongo and “friends” dinner of baked beans.  For good ‘ol low brow humor you can begin with arm farts but you have to end with campfire beans.

Personally I’m an “open the can and heat” baked bean sort of person.  Luckily for me there are a wide variety of baked beans on the market from vegetarian to so spicy a bucket of beer can’t quench the heat.  If I wanted, which I don’t, I could probably eat baked beans from a can for an entire month and never have the same type twice but that’s not what I’m writing about today.  I’m writing about made from scratch authentic baked beans.

Yes, even I have, on occasion, made baked beans from scratch and yes, though you have to plan ahead they do taste great.

Baked Beans – Slow and Slower

The basics are simple enough.  Start with a package of dried beans, most people prefer white great northern but feel free to substitute the bean of your choice be it black, pinto or red.  I’ve never seen garbanzo beans used but who knows; maybe you could start a new taste sensation.  With most dry beans you can choose between soaking them overnight or briefly boiling them and then letting them sit for 1 -2 hours.  There just is no quick way to make baked beans from scratch.  That’s truly from scratch, but if you want a semi-scratch way just buy a can or too of great northern beans as your base ingredient.

From this point on, it’s up to you.  There are recipes that put the beans in casserole pans in the oven, in pots on the stove, cast iron pots over a campfire, and even in crock pots.  Don’t get too excited about the crock pot idea.  You still have to go through the previous step of softening the beans either overnight or for several hours. (Or if you‘re a crock pot sort of person buying the can of beans as a starter would seem to be your method of choice)

Campfire cooking

(Photo credit: Ryan Greenberg)

A Chance to Explore Your Culinary Creativity

Now your cooking creativity can take over.  Pour in the ketchup or barbeque sauce, a dash of pepper sauce; mustard is good too.  Molasses, brown sugar and chopped onions just add to your medley of flavors.  Garlic powder sounds tasty as well. Unless you are making the beans as a vegetarian dish bacon is required.  Either fry the bacon, drain and add chopped up pieces to your beans or lay strips of bacon across the top of the pan as its cooking.  Rereading that last sentence it occurs to me that I would use both bacon methods in the same dish.

There’s hardly any way you can go wrong with baked beans.  Some food maven probably has added chocolate.  I know I’ve been known to pour in a beer; if one was handy.  Nuts sound horrendous and adding a topping of marshmallows is utterly ridiculous but other than the absurd almost anything goes in baked beans.  It’s what sneaks out later that’s the problem – hated by adults and a constant source of laughter to small children.  Blazing Saddles we still love you.

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