A recipe clipped from this paper about 25 years ago has become a favorite for Dave Van Brunt’s family and friends.
Dave, who is the head of marketing for an animal health company, and his wife, Maggie, live in Overland Park and enjoy spending time with their adult daughter. Dave and Maggie also enjoy cooking and entertaining.
Q: What do you like to cook?
I have always liked to cook but became much more serious about it after my daughter was born.
I enjoy all kinds of savory cooking, including smoking meats and two of my favorites are smoked pork loin and salmon. I often tweak recipes and call myself a “freelance cook.” Maggie and I sometimes alternate who prepares dinner, and other times we team up to cook dinner.
Q: Tell us about the recipe you are sharing.
Maggie and I are originally from Michigan but lived in Kansas City for a few years in the early 1990s, and it was then that I clipped this recipe for baked beans from The Kansas City Star. We kept the recipe as we moved several times, and now, we are back in Kansas City and still love to make it.
We think they are the best baked beans and my daughter is always excited when I make them. The beans are a great accompaniment and we serve them often when we barbecue, have friends over or when we take a dish to our Euchre game night. They are perfect all summer long, and we also enjoy them in the fall when tailgating. You can serve the beans hot out of the oven, yet they make a perfect buffet dish as they taste just as good if they have cooled a little.
I have tweaked and changed the recipe over time so now it reflects our current cooking style. While the original recipe had bacon in it, I now sometimes substitute smoked pork for the bacon. The original dish also had sugar and ketchup, but I omit those and have just increased the barbecue sauce. Whenever we travel to Cincinnati, I pick up barbecue sauce there and enjoy that flavor, as it has a little more vinegar taste than typical Kansas City sauces.
I use a variety of beans, so you can choose what sounds good. The original recipe specified butter beans, kidney beans and pork and beans, but now I often use black beans, pinto beans and other beans in the dish. I also increased the molasses as my family enjoys that flavor. It is now a true family recipe that we all enjoy.
Q: What advice do you have for those just learning to cook?
Most of all, don’t let cooking intimidate you. If something in a recipe doesn’t sound right to you, change it up a little.
Dave’s Three Bean Baked Beans
Makes 8 to 10 servings
¼ pound bacon, diced
¼ pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 cup barbecue sauce
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
2 heaping tablespoons molasses
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 (16-ounce) can butter beans, drained
1 (16-ounce) can red kidney beans or black beans, drained
1 (31-ounce) can pork and beans, drained
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cook the bacon, beef and onion in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the meat is browned and the onions are tender. Drain. Transfer the onion-meat mixture to a 3- or 4-quart baking dish and add the remaining ingredients.
Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour.
Tips: Substitute the beans you prefer. One combination we enjoy combines black beans, butter beans and pinto beans. Omit the bacon and stir in chopped, smoked pork. Stir the smoked pork into the dish along with the beans and remaining ingredients.
Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore are cookbook authors and food consultants that make up The Electrified Cooks. They have published over 14 cookbooks and thousands of recipes. They are members of Les Dames d’Escoffier and blog at pluggedintocooking.com. Email them at KCComeIntoMyKitchen@gmail.com.