Funny how there are certain foods that go with certain holidays.  I mean, we usually think of turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It’s hard to even find a turkey in the grocery store during the summer.  Why?  Who decided that turkey was a cold holiday food?  I mean, history tells us that Benjamin Franklin actually wanted the wild turkey to be our national bird.  So truth be told, turkey would be a great traditional food for patriotic holidays.  But it’s definitely not.

On most patriotic holidays, we think of grilling.  Hamburgers, hot dogs, steak, ribs.  And then there are what we consider the traditional sides:  baked beans, potato salad, cole slaw.  Yum!

I grew up eating those yummy, sugary baked beans baked in the oven with strips of bacon laid across the top.  They were delicious!  In the South, you’ll find those very beans at most church dinner-on-the-grounds (If you don’t know what that is, look it up.  It’s an awesome Southern tradition!).  While I love those baked beans, I like to put my own spin on things, so these are the beans I started making when I was a teenager still living at home with my mom and dad.

Beefy Baked Beans

  • 2 pounds of ground beef
  • 1 53-ounce can of pork and beans, drained
  • 1 18-ounce bottle of honey-hickory barbecue sauce
  • 1 firmly-packed cup of brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic salt

In a large skillet, pot, or Dutch oven, brown the ground beef.  Use a strainer to drain off most of the liquid.  Return the meat to the cooking pot.

Add the beans, barbecue sauce, brown sugar, mustard, and garlic salt.  Over medium-high heat, bring the beans to a bubble and then reduce heat to simmer.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 hours.

Well Duh #1:  Okay, they are not technically “baked” beans.  But you can actually bake them if that bothers you.  Just slide the pot (provided it’s oven-safe) into a 300-degree oven and bake for 3-4 hours, stirring every 15 minutes or so.  You can also brown the meat and then throw everything into a crock pot.  Cook on low for 4-6 hours.  Whatever floats your boat!

Well Duh #2:  My sauce of choice is Sweet Baby Ray’s Hickory and Brown Sugar.  Just make sure you use a sweet sauce.  Preferably something with “sugar” or “honey” in the name.

Well Duh #3:  I used 80/20 ground beef because I found it on sale.  You can use meat with whatever fat ratio you prefer.  I’ve made it with 70/30, 90/10, ground turkey, ground venison.  It really doesn’t matter.  Just use two pounds of whatever you choose.  The beef-to-beans ratio is what’s important in this recipe.

Well Duh #4:  Yes, that really does say “1 53-ounce can of pork and beans.”  It’s a big, honking can!  They are usually on the bottom shelf under the regular cans of pork and beans.  Probably because they’re so heavy, they might collapse a higher shelf!  They are hilariously huge – but not the biggest can of pork and beans I’ve ever seen.  There’s an even bigger one.  I call it the “family-reunion-sized” can.  Believe it!  It’s 117 ounces – that’s 7 1/2 pounds!!  If you’re using that can, double all the other ingredients in this recipe.  And get a bigger pot!

This dish is always a hit.  And I’m always glad that I use the big can so we can have baked beans for a couple of days.  They’re even better warmed up the second day!  Memorial Day, Fourth of July, or Uncle Bob’s birthday.  Find an occasion to make these awesome beans!


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