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Four Bean Baked Beans

8 bacon slices
1 onion (optional)
2 cloves garlic (optional)
1 Tablespoons dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
3/4 cup tomato paste
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup dark molasses
15 ounces red kidney beans
15 ounces black beans
15 ounces northern beans
15 ounces pinto beans
1 stalk celery, minced
1/4 cup bell pepper, minced
salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons liquid smoke (optional)
(We use Wright’s All natural Hickory Seasoning Liquid Smoke)

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cook bacon in heavy large ovenproof pot over medium heat until crisp.
Using tongs, transfer to paper towels to drain.
Crumble bacon and reserve.
Add onion and garlic (if using) and cook and medium heat for about 2 minutes.
Add dry mustard and thyme and stir 1 minute. Mix in tomato paste, vinegar, molasses, bacon, liquid smoke, all beans and a little water (if needed).
Season with salt and pepper.
Cover pot and bake bean mixture as long as desired (45 minutes on up to 8 hours), stirring occasionally and adding more water if mixture seems dry.
We love to bake this a day ahead for 8 hours, refrigerate overnight and then reheat for 45 minutes before serving.

This recipe can be made garlic and onion free and still tastes delicious!
Serves 4 to 6.

Four Bean Baked Beans before the big mix and bake.