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Eileen's Flavor-baked Beans

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7 cans pork and beans in tomato sauce, 15 oz.

2 5/8 cups Domino dark brown sugar

3 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard

21-32 oz. Market Pantry hardwood smoked classic cut bacon

1 3/4 cups ketchup

This version of baked beans is a favorite at potluck dinners. The original recipe dates back to the 1960s at least and was possibly first published as a reader's submission in Capper's Weekly newspaper out of Topeka, Kansas.

Empty ketchup and dry mustard into a blender, blend well. If you live in an area deprived of Domino dark brown sugar such as the Miami, Florida metro area, don't substitute one of the inferior brown sugars available there. Order it online or substitute Meijer Dark Brown Sugar. After measuring the dark brown sugar, cut it with a knife on a large cutting board until it is light and fluffy again, without any clumps or lumps, so that will dissolve instantly when mixed with the other ingredients. You will be stirring the mixture for a long time to dissolve the brown sugar if that you skip this step. Cut the bacon into 1/4 inch wide slices across the grain of the bacon.

Add all of the ingredients to a 13 inch stainless steel mixing bowl. Mix well. Place on a high shelf in the oven so that the baked beans do not burn on the bottom and to allow room for a serving container such as a CorningWare French White Cast Aluminum Dutch Oven 5.5 quarts to be placed on the shelf below during the final 1/2 hour of baking.

Bake uncovered in a slow oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 hours. Remove from oven, stir well and return to the oven for 1 more hour for a total cooking time of 4 hours. The mixture should be boiling and have a thin layer of liquid bacon grease and a slight film on top. The bacon at the outside edges of the baked bean mixture can burn, if baked for over 4 hours at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix well before serving.

If the baked beans are finished well before serving time, you can turn the oven down to 230 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 or more hours with excellent results without burning the bacon or overcooking. The baked beans hold heat for a very long time, so they travel well to potlucks. Preheating a serving container such as mentioned above before adding the baked beans will help keep the beans hot for a long time, plus it will not tip over in your car as easily as a stainless steel bowl and the handles make it easier to carry. Towels or blankets wrapped around the serving container can help the baked beans warm while traveling.

My attempts at making these baked beans in a crockpot were a disaster. These beans taste very good after refrigerated and when served cold out of the refrigerator. You can try making a smaller version by dividing this recipe by 3.5 and baking for 2.5 hours. There is about 1 hour of preparation time before placing in the oven.

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