I picked up some great ideas from a couple of real outdoorsmen, who used to cook for charity events and make huge tubs of these. Simple ingredients, but when this is cooked down for a couple of hours, it gets thick and sticky. Adjust quantities to accommodate the size of your crowd. Not only is the bacon & onion prep a key to this recipe, but also the addition of the cider vinegar — give it a try — it makes the difference!
PREP BACON AND ONION:
When available, use a food processor — and if you don’t have one, then just grate the onion and chop the bacon into small pieces. The food processor works best, where you just rough chop the bacon and onion and then process all the way down to a paste. Having the ingredients finely chopped like this allows them to melt over the long cooking time.
- 4-6 strips of thick cut bacon (more, if you have thinly sliced bacon), finely diced
- ½ to 1 onion, grated (on a box grater or food processor)
COMBINE THE BACON & ONION MIXTURE WITH:
- 2-3 cans of prepared baked beans (like Bush’s)
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped, pressed or grated
- ½ cup prepared BBQ sauce (or else substitute ketchup, brown sugar & a couple of drops of liquid smoke)
- 1/3 cup prepared yellow (ballpark) mustard (like French’s)
- 2-3 heaping Tablespoons of brown sugar
- Add: cider vinegar (1 to 2 tsp per can of beans, depending on strength of cider vinegar – the cloudy organic vinegar has a much stronger flavor, so use less).
Preheat the oven to 350
Empty the contents of the canned baked beans into a large mixing bowl. Add the balance of the ingredients (including the bacon & onion mixture), stir to combine well, and pour into a baking dish which was sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for at least 1 hour – and it gets better after 1.5 to 2 hours. For longer (slower) baking, start with pan covered in foil, then remove foil and up the temperature to 350-375 to finish and caramelize. You can let it get as caramelized as you wish. Remove from the oven and let it rest about 10 minutes before serving.