The baked beans recipe in my old Fannie Farmer Cookbook calls for navy beans, water, salt, salt pork, dry mustard, dark-brown sugar, and molasses.
It bakes for six hours after the beans have soaked all night.
We can definitely speed that up.
My 1943 Joy of Cooking has a recipe for Canned Baked Beans and Bacon or Frankfurters that starts with a No. 2 can of beans and doctors it up from there. (A No. 2 can was usually a 20 oz. can containing 5 servings. About 2-1/2 cups.)
I’d be willing to bet if you went back a few generations, there’d be that cookbook or one similar, maybe from some local group or charity, that started with canned beans and doctored them up.
Yes, I could make my own beans (and I have before). I could also plant and grow my own beans (which I have not before). Just saying, you have to draw the line somewhere.
And so, for the upcoming July 4th holiday, we will doctor it up! After all, who am I to argue with proper history and Grandma Penny?
I remember these beans going back to my mid-teens, I suppose. (Before that, beans were beans and I didn’t notice or pay much attention.) The old original recipe card called for “2 big cans of Bush’s Baked Beans.” No exact size given. A little detective work reveals a 28oz can, so 56oz total. Roughly.
But I have something they didn’t have (or need, to be fair): Bush’s Organic Baked Beans. 16oz each x 4 = 64oz, close enough to perfect for me.
Now, 2 big cans was the closest thing on that card to an actual measurement. It just had a short list of ingredients and a baking instruction. So, a couple of years ago, after a bit of pestering and some experiments, I got it down to easy measurements.
And it works like a charm. The last time we took it to a potluck, someone ate half a pan of those beans all by themselves. I don’t want to mention any names (you know who you are, Eddie). I’m just happy to make good food that people enjoy.
The recipe also calls for a pound of hot breakfast sausage. If you hate spicy or can’t tolerate it, you can use regular sausage but be aware it’s not quite the same.
These days, I either make my own or, often as not, I get my sausage from Steve’s Meat Market, our local butcher. And when I say local, I mean fifteen minutes down the highway two little towns over. Family owned and serving it up local since 1969.
Because it’s not spicy or hot, I add a teaspoon of crushed red pepper to it when I brown it.
The old recipe card says Jimmy Dean’s Hot Sausage but that was back when Jimmy was still at the helm of the company, i.e. before they started adding corn syrup to everything etc. Sadly.
If you don’t have a local butcher, I also like Beeler’s Hot Sausage which you can find at many grocery stores, frozen usually. If you already have a favorite in the freezer, then you’re good to go.
Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Brown and crumble the sausage, mixing in the red pepper flakes if needed. Drain.
In a casserole dish add the beans, mix in the cooked sausage, and add ¼ cup of brown sugar, yellow mustard, ketchup, dried onion, and 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire.
Yes, it needs to be dried onion. I’ve tried using fresh onion and it doesn’t work nearly as well.
Bake for an hour.
Grandma Penny's Baked Beans
Food tastes great at a picnic table and these easy baked beans make it even better. Satisfying enough to be a main dish but perfect as a side dish. Visit suppertimeblues.com to learn more.
- 1 pound hot/spicy breakfast sausage, browned, crumbled, and drained
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional, see note)
- 64 ounces baked beans I use 4 16oz cans.
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup yellow mustard
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup dried onion
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Brown the sausage, with the crushed red pepper if needed, and crumble. Drain.
In a casserole dish, mix well all of the ingredients.
Bake for one hour covered at 350°F.
If your sausage is not hot, add 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes when you brown it.
You can easily halve this recipe and just cook the other half of the sausage for breakfast tomorrow!
The beans are good both hot out of the oven and at room temp on a picnic table.
And as always, let me know what you think.
Happy 4th of July!