Baked 4-Bean Casserole

img_3570The 4th of July: parades … fireworks … picnics and barbecues …Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. Ahhhhh America!

As I started thinking about my favorite things to make for/around this holiday weekend, I remembered this baked bean casserole. And, given that it is National Baked Bean Month, it seemed appropriate. This is a variation on the traditional recipe and has always been very well received at potluck dinners. It can be made ahead, baked at any temperature between 250-400 degrees or in a slow cooker, and consist of any combination of beans. I know some people aren’t fond of lima beans but they really do add great color and texture to the dish. Besides, isn’t it really all about the bacon anyway??

Baked 4-Bean Casserole

1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained & rinsed
1 15-ounce can Great Northern (or other white) beans, drained & rinsed
2 cups frozen Lima beans, thawed
1 16-ounce can baked beans
8 strips bacon, fried & crumbled (drippings reserved)
1 cup diced onion
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon ground/dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce

Combine all beans in a mixing bowl; set aside. In a skillet, sauté onions in bacon drippings for 5-6 minutes or until tender. Add brown sugar, molasses, vinegar, ground mustard, garlic powder, and Worchestershire sauce, stir to combine, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove from heat and pour over beans. Add half of the bacon crumbles, fold together to distribute liquid evenly, and pour into a large casserole dish or 9″x13″ pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until bubbly and heated through. Oven temperature is flexible, anywhere between 250-400°. If using a slow cooker, cook on low for 4-6 hours, setting the lid slightly open for the last 30-45 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.

Sprinkle with remaining bacon before serving.

This recipe can easily be made into a one-dish meal by adding a pound of browned ground beef or smoked sausage before baking.

It could always be made into a theme dish by adding cut up hot dogs for Baked 4-Beanie Weenie to eat while watching the hot dog eating contest on television.  On second thought, it might be better not to eat anything while watching a hot dog eating contest!

I hope you enjoy all of your favorite Independence Day activities, food and beverages!

God bless America!

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