Judy Mills From-Scratch Baked Beans
Contributed by: Mike Mills and Amy Mills Tunnicliffe of Peace, Love, and Barbecue
Judy Mills is married to my oldest brother, Landess. She always brings from-scratch baked beans to family picnics, and they are good. She goes on and on about how much better they are because she started with dried beans. When I started working on this book, I asked Landess to watch her make the beans and write out the recipe for me. He laughed and laughed. "She doesn't make those beans from scratch," he said, dashing the story I'd known to be true for more than 50 years.
Judy wrote out the recipe for me, and I've altered it, using dried beans. The color will be lighter since you're starting with white beans, and the texture will be just a little firmer. You'll have to start a day early to soak the beans, but I guarantee the end result will be worth the extra time and effort.
- 1 pound dried great northern beans
- 4 to 6 slices bacon
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 cups ketchup (I like Hunt's)
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard (I like French's)
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 tablespoons Magic Dust (recipe below)
Place the beans in a large saucepan and cover with salted water by 2 to 3 inches. Soak the beans overnight.
The next day, drain and rinse the beans. Return the beans to the saucepan and cover with fresh water by about 4 inches. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the beans are tender but not bursting open.
While the beans are cooking, mix the ketchup, molasses, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, chili powder, and Magic Dust together in a large bowl.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon. Drain the bacon on paper towels, crumble it, and set aside. Add the onion and garlic to the bacon drippings and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. The onion should still be a little crunchy.
Drain the beans, reserving 2 cups of the bean water. Pour the beans and bean water into the bowl with the sauce. Add the bacon and onion and stir to combine well. Pour into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish and bake for 1 hour or until bubbly. Will keep, refrigerated, for up to 1 week.
There's a big shaker of Magic Dust next to the salt and pepper in my own kitchen and at all my restaurants. I wish I could figure out a way to attach the bottle to the restaurant tables because, at my restaurants, it's the most frequently stolen item!
To make it a little more hot and spicy, increase the mustard powder and black pepper to 1/4 cup each.
- 1/2 cup paprika
- 1/4 cup kosher salt, finely ground
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons mustard powder
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 1/4 cup ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup granulated garlic
- 2 tablespoons cayenne
Mix all ingredients and store in a tightly covered container. You'll want to keep some in a shaker next to the grill or stove. Keeps indefinitely but won't last long.
Makes About 2 1/2 Cups
MIKE MILLS is the only person to win three Grand World Champion titles at the Memphis in May International Barbecue Festival. He is also barbecue guru and partner at Danny Meyer's Blue Smoke restaurant in New York City and owner of six notable barbecue joints, two in Southern Illinois and four in Las Vegas.
AMY MILLS TUNNICLIFFE is a journalist and publicist. She also conducts training seminars and is a sought-after public speaker. She lives near Boston.
Serving Size: Makes 8 - 10 Servings