Grandma J’s Baked Beans

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As I mentioned in a previous post, Grandma has declared this recipe her favorite of all time.  That’s a big deal folks.  Like we’re talking Darth-is-Luke’s-father big deal.  Her library of recipes is huge so for her to even pick one as a favorite was a surprise. In honor of her favorite recipe, I’m going to tell you my favorite Grandma story of all time.

This happened well over 20 years ago when Gram was a spring chicken, if that can be used to describe someone in their 70’s.  Grandma drove a gold colored minivan at the time.  I provide this detail in order for you to get a clear mental picture of the situation.  Grandma  went into town with my sister to run some errands. {note: a small town with a population of maybe 6,000 at the time, again provided to assist the mental picture}  Upon leaving the store, Grandma proceeded to pull out right in front of another car.  Rightfully so, that car honked its horn.  To which Grandma turned and STUCK HER TONGUE OUT AT THE DRIVER.

That mental picture of a grandmother in her 70’s with a full head of bright white hair, driving a gold minivan, pulling out in front of another driver when there was probably 6 cars total on the road *and* sticking her tongue out? That combined with the fact that it was her fault.  Oh man, that mental picture has sustained me through the years.  I’m giggling even as I type.

Thank God for feisty old ladies.

Now onto her favorite recipe.  First I need to share with you a local brand. If you’re ever in Wisconsin, you must try Nueske’s smoked meat (pronounced NEW-SKI).   You won’t regret it.  {this isn’t an advertisement, just sharing a tasty recommendation}

So you get some bacon and fry up 4-5 slices.  The package above had 7 slices so I just fried the whole package.

If you haven’t started frying up bacon in the oven, it’s so easy.  The instructions I read online (which, of course, I cannot find now) said to *not* preheat the oven.  To place the bacon in the oven and then turn it on at 400* and let it cook 17-20 minutes.  It worked perfectly.  Place bacon on paper-towel lined plate to soak up the grease afterwards.

Side note: I rarely eat bacon so *this* is what happens when I actually do cook some up.  My dog Zeus camped out right below the counter. Ha!

Fry up 1/3 lbs. of diced salt pork. I thought the salt pork looks quite a bit like the bacon so I googled it.  It turns out salt pork is made from the same cuts as bacon but is much saltier and not cured or smoked like bacon. Now we know.

Gram’s recipe calls for 2 (48 oz.) jars of Great Northern beans but I just had 15 oz. cans so I used 7 (!) cans.  It was a lot but in the end, I wasn’t sorry and neither was my family.   Pour the beans into a baking dish and mix in the cooked salt pork.

Chop up one onion.  You can finely dice the onion or opt for a rough chop like I did above.  I actually cut my thumb halfway through chopping the onion so I had to finish chopping with one hand…thereby deciding for me that a rough chop was a good idea.

Mix the onion, brown sugar, mustard, molasses, salt and pepper into the beans and salted pork.  I love that Gram’s recipes usually say ‘Mix in all ingredients.’ Simplicity.

Give the bacon a rough chop and put on top of the beans. Bake for 30 minutes at 350*

If you want your beans to get a little darker, Grandma says to cook them in a baked enamel dish.  Doesn’t really matter, they’re super tasty either way.

Check out my Aunt Merri’s bowl. Isn’t it adorable?  I love it.  This is a pretty large recipe that can either be halved or doubled, depending on your crowd.  They’ll love it!

GRANDMA J’S BAKED BEANS

4-5 slices of bacon, cooked & diced

1/3 lb. salt pork, cooked & diced

2 jars (48 oz.) Great Northern beans

1 onion, chopped

1/2 cup molasses

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon mustard

1 teaspoon pepper

salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350*. Pour all the beans into a casserole dish.  Fry bacon, place on paper-towel lined plate and set aside to cool.  Chop & fry the salt pork, add to the beans.  Mix in the rest of the ingredients except the bacon.  Roughly chop the bacon and spread on top of the beans.  Bake for 30 minutes.

**This recipe can be easily halved or doubled

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