Back in college I would buy cans of baked beans at less than 50 cents a piece. This was an inexpensive yet filling side dish or even main course (hey, it was college, I wasn’t at my prime of culinary experience). After a few years out in the work force, my husband and I realized we could throw caution to the wind and spend a dollar!!! on the “fancy” baked beans. You know the kind I mean. They boast brown sugar and bacon or maple flavor on the can. We tried those and thought they were amazing. Best baked beans ever, we thought. Eventually, several more years down the line, we started making things from scratch. While beans were certainly not the top of the list, we meandered our way around to them. I’ve got to tell you, you will never look at a can of baked beans the same way again. We recently bought a can of “fancy” beans for a camping trip and were quite surprised to find that we had once considered them the best of the best. So, if you want to keep buying baked beans in cans, do NOT make this recipe! If you want a truly delicious side dish that is fairly inexpensive (depending on how much bacon costs), then you should definitely make these beans!
1 pound of dried great northern or navy beans
1 onion, diced
½ lb bacon diced
¼ cup molasses
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup brown sugar
salt, pepper, and ground mustard to taste
Start by soaking your beans overnight. We have tried shortcuts for this and have not had much success with getting nice soft beans. My best recommendation is to soak them overnight.
Drain and rinse the beans and then pour them into a large pot or dutch oven with 8 cups of fresh water. Boil them for 1-2 hours until they are soft and beginning to split open.
Drain the beans, reserving about a cup of the liquid.
In a large casserole (we use a 9×13 dish), combine beans, reserved liquid, onion, bacon, molasses, maple syrup, brown sugar, and seasonings. You can substitute syrup for the molasses or molasses for the syrup, but we have found a combination of both gives the best flavor. Stir until it is well combined.
Bake, covered with foil, at 300° F for 2 ½ hours. If there is too much liquid after about 2 hours, remove the foil and bake uncovered for the last half hour.
Serve it up and enjoy. Remember, once you try this, you will not want to go back to cans!