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Here in Utah it’s picnic season. It also is just days away from US Independence Day. Combine those two and it’s gonna be an epic weekend for great food and family time!
When it comes to picnics around our neck of the woods the food varies, but almost always includes a lot of seasonal fruits and vegetables and a large crock of amazing baked beans. Now, these are not just your pop open the can and toss in a spoon baked beans. Oh noooo… These are amazing baked beans with chunks of bacon and sometimes even peppers and pineapple depending on who’s doing the making. We add a little Ultra Gel to help keep the mix nice and thick, especially if we’re adding any of the fruit or veg which can increase the liquid level even as they add to the flavor.
There is a level of…taste and adjust to this recipe because things like how much barbecue flavor you want or what kind of mustard tickles your tastebuds can vary, but these baked beans will give you a solid base to build on.
Serve these up as a side to go along any picnic favorite. They’re always welcome at the party! Personally I like these baked beans on a hot dog much better than chili!
Picnic Baked Beans with Ultra Gel
3-4 pieces of bacon, diced
1/2 medium white onion, diced
2 cans pork and beans
1 can black beans, drained
1 can Great Northern white beans, drained
1/2 cup favorite bbq sauce (I have a homemade recipe I use or I really love Sweet Baby Rays Original sauce)
1 Tablespoon mustard
2 Tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoons Worchestershire sauce
2-3 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
2-3 Tablespoons Ultra Gel
Optional: sliced bell peppers, chunk pineapple (drained), smoked or pulled pork
pepper to taste – the beans and bacon generally have enough salt to them you don’t need more. For a vegetarian version leave out the bacon and double up on the onion and peppers.
In a large, heavy pan, cook bacon and onions until bacon is crisp and onions are translucent. (I always start with the bacon and add the onions when it’s about half done so they get done at the same time without anything burning). Drain off most of the grease. Add beans and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Add other ingredients and stir well to combine. Let cook for 10 minutes over low heat. Taste (with a clean spoon please!) and adjust condiments and spices until you reach your desired flavor. More or less Ultra Gel may be required based on how much additional liquid is added to the mix. A bean with a lot of pineapple, for example, will need 2 to 3 times as much Ultra Gel to compensate for the juice which will cook out of the pineapple chunks. (But the pineapple flavor is REALLY good).
This dish is great warm or cold and stores well so can be made ahead of time.
My husband is fond of making up a double batch of these beans and instead of cooking them on the stove he’ll smoke them with a chunk of cherry or apple wood for about two hours. Delicious!