Sweet and Sticky Pork and Beans

Pork and beans (or Franks and Beans/Beans and Weiners) is a culinarydish that uses pork and beans as its main ingredients. Numerous variations exist, usually with a more specific name, such as  Fabada Asturiana,Olla podrida, or American canned pork and beans.


I’ve been procrastinating this post for over a week. Partly I’ve just been lazy and procrastinating everything else too. But I was also not even sure I wanted to share this particular recipe. This turned into another “doctor up the canned baked-beans” recipe, and frankly my quick baked beans recipe uses mostly the same ingredients and is so much tastier than this one. I’m still not entirely sure I need to share another version, but in the interest of documenting this beany journey I’m on I’ll go ahead and post it here. It’s not that this one is bad, but the flavor balance is off in my opinion- too sweet and too much BBQ sauce, and since I have the other recipe already on my site I’m not going to waste time trying to tweak this one. If you’re a fan of overly sweet and sticky beans maybe this one is for you, but otherwise do yourself a favor and go to the other recipe.

I think the one thing that might redeem this recipe, although I haven’t tried it yet, is the optional pork shoulder. As the New York Times said, back in 1998, pork and beans is “an American canned classic, [and] is recognized by American consumers generally as an article of commerce that contains very little pork.”[4] (citation via Wikipedia). My base recipe only adds a few strips of bacon to the small chunk of salt pork in the canned beans. Adding the additional pork shoulder would give more bulk to the dish to counter the excess bbq sauce. I’m not sure if I’ll ever bother with coming back to this recipe, but if I do I’ll check out that theory.

Some version of the pork and beans combination has been developed in almost every culture where pork is eaten. It seems to be accepted that the practice spread through Europe with the Romans, although I haven’t done enough research to know what evidence is used to back up this theory. I assume that some variety of beans, pork, and cooking pots were available in other parts of Europe prior to the Roman conquest, so to me it seems more likely that there simply aren’t much in the way of records about what people ate prior to the Romans. I’m skeptical of the idea that such a basic combination has to have had a single origin point and spread from there. I’m sure that Romans helped spread it to places where pork or beans maybe weren’t a part of the diet before, but I’m guessing that such a basic combination would have been discovered independently by anyone with access to both ingredients well before recorded history.

Sweet and Sticky Pork and Beans

Serves: 6-8
Prep: 20 minuts
Cook 1:40
Total: 2:00

½ cup bacon or salt pork, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 can (28 oz) pork and beans
2 cans (15 oz) white beans (navy, cannellini, etc), drained

6 Tablespoons brown sugar
¼ cup molasses
½ cup ketchup
⅔ cup barbecue sauce
1 cup tomato sauce
1 ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
⅓ teaspoon black pepper
1 ¼ teaspoon dry mustard
1 Tablespoon prepared yellow mustard

2 ½ Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 lbs. Pork shoulder, cubed.
1 ⅔ Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cans (15 oz) pinto beans 
1 can (15 oz) kidney beans
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups water
1 lb. dry white beans, cooked, in place of canned beans
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard, in place of dry or yellow.

Preheat Oven to 325 F.

Put bacon in a dutch oven or large skillet and place over medium-low heat. Cook until some of the fat has rendered but bacon is not crispy. Add onion and sauté 5-10 minutes until onion begins to brown. 

Add beans and stir. 

Add brown sugar, molasses, ketchup, tomato sauce, Worcestershire, salt, pepper and mustard. Mix well and place in oven, uncovered. Bake for about 1 hour and 40 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and the top is browned. 

Alternatively, once the onions are cooked mix everything in a crockpot and cook on low for 5-6 hours. 

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