Whether it’s a picnic, holiday or none of the above, July has plenty of days celebrating plenty of good food.
July is National Baked Bean Month and National Hot Dog Month — one of my favorite combinations!
Here are some recipes in that vein.
BROWN SUGAR AND BACON BAKED BEANS
10 slices bacon diced
1 yellow onion finely diced
1⁄2 green bell pepper finely diced
54 oz can pork and beans or 4 (15.5oz each) cans
4 Tbsp ketchup
1⁄4 cup molasses
2⁄3 cup brown sugar
1⁄4 cup cider vinegar
2 tsp dry mustard
Cook bacon about half way through (in whichever way you want), and set aside to drain on a paper towel. Once cooled, roughly chop into semi-bite sized pieces.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees and set rack to the lower-middle rack position.
In a deep skillet, heat about 2 Tbsp of bacon grease (or butter) over MED heat. Add diced onion and green pepper and saute about 5 minutes, until softened.
Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine well. Let mixture simmer for a minute or so.
While the mixture is simmering, grease a 13x9 baking dish, or other 3 quart dish or pot.
Pour beans into the prepared baking dish and lay cooked bacon on top of the beans.
Bake for 2-3 hours, depending on your desired consistency.
Let the beans stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Tip: Garnishing with sliced jalapenos is great if you like a little heat.
BOSTON BAKED BEANS
2 cups navy beans
½ pound bacon
1 onion, finely diced
3 tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
½ cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup brown sugar
Soak beans overnight in cold water. Simmer the beans in the same water until tender, approximately 1 to 2 hours. Drain and reserve the liquid.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Arrange the beans in a 2 quart bean pot or casserole dish by placing a portion of the beans in the bottom of dish, and layering them with bacon and onion.
In a saucepan, combine molasses, salt, pepper, dry mustard, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and pour over beans. Pour in just enough of the reserved bean water to cover the beans. Cover the dish with a lid or aluminum foil.
Bake for 3 to 4 hours in the preheated oven, until beans are tender. Remove the lid about halfway through cooking, and add more liquid if necessary to prevent the beans from getting too dry.
ISLAND HOT DOG SAUCE
1 pound ground beef (85%)
1 large onion (finely chopped)
2 tablespoons chili powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon ground allspice
1⁄4 teaspoon ground mustard
1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder
1⁄8 teaspoon ground cumin
1⁄8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄6 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1⁄8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1⁄4 cup tomato paste
2 cups water
12 to 16 standard hot dog buns (steamed**)
For the Topping
1 cup onions (finely chopped, about 1 to 2 tablespoons for each hot dog)
Prepared yellow mustard
Salt (to taste)
Optional: shredded sharp or mild cheddar cheese
In a medium saucepan or deep sauté pan, brown the ground beef; drain well. To the ground beef add the finely chopped onion, chili powder, 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, allspice, ground mustard, garlic powder, cumin, cinnamon, chili powder, black pepper, tomato paste, and water.
Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer one to two hours.
Grill, steam, or boil the hot dogs and steam or heat the buns.
To assemble: Put a cooked hot dog in the steamed or toasted hot dog bun. Top with about 2 tablespoons of sauce to cover the hot dog. Sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons of chopped onion over the ground beef mixture then squirt a line of mustard the length of the hot dog. If desired, top the hot dogs with shredded Cheddar cheese, mild or sharp.
TIP: For a finer texture, pulse the ground beef in the food processor or use a potato masher to mash the beef as you cook it.
TIP: Standard hot dog buns are used for coney dogs, not New England-style.
GREEK HOT DOG SAUCE
lb ground beef
2 cups water
1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons dried onion flakes
1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and add all spices. Before heating, stir into a paste.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for one hour or until liquid is reduced to your liking.
If you use very lean meat to avoid cholesterol, add a tablespoon or two vegetable oil (not olive oil). It’s the oil that brings the flavor to the tongue!
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