On a budget

Thirty-minute baked beans

(Food styling/karoline boehm goodnick; Wiqan ang for the boston globe)
August 13, 2008

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Serves 6

Thrifty and filling baked beans date back to Colonial days, when they were simmered over a fire for hours. Until very recently, in fact, beans, franks, and brown bread were Saturday dinner in many homes. When the old-fashioned, long-cooked method became too time-consuming, moms enhanced canned beans to make them seem like they'd been cooked the long way. Baked beans are still a favorite at picnics and potlucks. Because canned white beans can turn to mush, this recipe uses pinto beans combined with a sweet and savory sauce with bacon, onion, ketchup, brown sugar, maple syrup, and a hint of cayenne pepper. Starting the dish on the stovetop and finishing it off in the oven gives it a long-cooked taste in a short amount of time. Just add a chubby all-beef hot dog fresh off the grill.

7 strips of bacon, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 onion, chopped
2/3 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons dark or light brown sugar
2/3 cup maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and black pepper, to taste
3 cans (15 ounces each) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Have on hand a 2-quart baking dish.

2. In a deep skillet over medium heat, render the bacon until browned and almost crisp. Remove it from the pan and set on paper towels to drain.

3. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until it softens.

4. Add the ketchup, brown sugar, maple syrup, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the beans and bacon.

5. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish and bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until the beans are bubbling at the edges. Christine Merlo