Self-Serve Baked Beans

Self-Serve Baked Beans

I can’t wait to make this for the Super Bowl this weekend…

To be clear, I love like making dinner for people any day of the year, but I like it especially for big nights like the Super Bowl (or the Oscars or the World Series!), which feels like a good excuse to relax most of the instincts I have around dinner in general. To begin with, the usually verboten TV is not only on, it is the absolute star of the party. Plates piled high on laps on sofas: Totally fine! No need to wait for everyone to sit down, go ahead and wolf down that first helping while yelling at Pat Mahomes with your mouth full.

And then there’s the comfort food-y main dish, which is always the very definition of crowdpleaser. In the past, we’ve made chili (of course), but also Italian subs, steak sandwiches, mac and cheese, nachos and all kinds of stews. This year, I’m psyched to make an old favorite recipe for baked beans, which we can prepare well in advance and has the added bonus of making the house smell warm and cozy. We forgo any official Side Dishes for chips and toppings (cilantro totally counts as a vegetable!) and set up a self-serve station ahead of time so we can just chill… or cheer or scream. Either way! It makes me wonder why I don’t do this kind of thing every Sunday.

Baked Beans
This version is from my last book, How to Celebrate Everything and was inspired by Victoria Granof. Makes 8 to 10 half-cup portions.

1 pound dried navy or Great Northern beans
1 small onion, chopped
1⁄2 cup pure maple syrup
1⁄4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
2 tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 thick strip bacon (omit if you’d like it to be vegetarian; or serve bacon crumbles for toppings)
5 to 6 cups boiling water
Suggested toppings: cornbread (store bought or homemade), Fritos (!), shredded sharp cheddar, fresh herbs like parsley or chives.

In a large pot, cover the beans with water. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 1 hour. Drain. Return the pot to the stovetop.

Preheat the oven to 300°F. In the large pot, over low heat, combine all the ingredients except the boiling water. Stir in the cooked beans.

Add just enough of the boiling water to the pot to cover everything. Cover the pot with aluminum foil, then cover the foil with the lid. Bake for 5 hours, adding more warm water as necessary to keep the beans submerged. Uncover completely for the last 30 minutes to brown the top.

Thoughts? What are you serving for the Super Bowl, if you’re watching it?

P.S. The best supermarket salsa for your Super Bowl party and the magic of potlucks.

(Photos by Yossy Arefi for Cup of Jo.)