It’s getting to be that time of year for graduation parties, family reunions, Memorial Day and 4th of July picnics, just to mention a few occasions where feeding a crowd is in order. When we lived in Minnesota, my aunt often had her Calico Beans on the table at family gatherings. A hearty baked bean dish with three kinds of beans, ground beef and bacon ~ it disappeared fast!
Twenty years later and I recently pulled out my handwritten recipe from my aunt, on a very small sheet of note paper. I made a batch the other day, and man, so good ~ just like my Aunt Jean’s. And Meathead, well, what do you think he thought of Calico Beans?!?! That’s a no-brainer.
It’s so simple to make on the stovetop, all in one pot. I suppose you could bake in the oven, like baked beans, but I like my aunt’s way best, on the stovetop. And, like so many dishes, this tastes even better the next day, making it a perfect dish to make ahead for a crowd.
I hope you’re enjoying the warm weather. If you’re looking for a great side dish for your next big gathering, these Calico Beans are a crowd pleaser. Everyone loves them and will be asking you for the recipe ~ just like I asked my Aunt Jean, years ago.
A hearty baked bean dish with three kinds of beans, ground beef and bacon ~ a surefire crowd pleaser.
- 1 lb ground beef (any kind will do, I used ground sirloin)
- ½ cup diced yellow onion (about half a large onion)
- ½ cup diced bacon (about 3-4 pieces thick-cut bacon)
- 1 (15½-oz) can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (16-oz) can butter beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 (16- to 18-oz) jars or cans of B&M brick oven baked beans
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup ketchup
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar (can use white vinegar instead)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp dry mustard
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add bacon, onion and ground beef. Cook and brown, breaking up ground beef with wooden spoon, until beef is cooked and onion is soft and translucent, about 10 - 12 minutes. Drain grease.
Add the beans, brown sugar, ketchup, vinegar, salt and mustard; stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Turn heat down, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring often. Serve and enjoy!
My Aunt used a specific brand of baked beans and I follow her advice. If desired, substitute with a plain version of canned pork and beans.