"Woah, Nelly." That's how Ree Drummond begins this recipe, and we have to agree! We took one look at this bacon-topped casserole of smoky beans and knew we'd be making it soon. Fortunately, with lots of weekend cookouts and football parties to attend, we didn't have to look far for an excuse!
Here's the link to the recipe:
• Quick Southern-Style Baked Beans by Pam Anderson for Pioneer Woman
We're not entirely familiar with how baked beans are traditionally made in the south, but we wouldn't exactly call this recipe "quick." It comes together very quickly, but then the beans are supposed to bake for about two hours until the sauce is completely reduced.
But we're haggling over details here! These beans were exactly what we imagine when we think of barbecue baked beans. The long(ish) cooking time ensures that the entire dish is infused with barbecue flavor. The beans were tender and flavorful, and they were in perfect proportion to the sauce. The sauce itself was rich with bacon fat, but not greasy or excessively fatty. Of course, we argued over who got those bacon strips! This is really the perfect side dish - especially when paired with, oh, say some ribs and coleslaw? Yum.
We did make a few changes to the original recipe:
The original recipe serves 18 people, so we cut it in half. Even that fed four hungry adults with enough leftover for several lunches! It halved perfectly with no need for any special adjustments.
We're also not as big fans of canned "pork n' beans" as Ree, so we opted for a mix of pinto and great northern beans instead. We rinsed the beans before using them, and then added extra barbecue sauce to compensate for the missing liquid. We thought it worked just fine and even forgot that the original recipe called for a different bean until we started typing up this review!
When it came time to transfer the beans into the baking dish, we decided to just bake them right in the cast iron skillet instead. This worked just fine for us, and made an especially dramatic presentation when we carried the steaming skillet to the table.
If you're looking for that one signature dish to bring to potlucks this fall, this is it!
Related: Taste Boosters: Eight Ways to Add Smoky Flavor to a Dish
(Image: Emma Christensen for the Kitchn)