I learned how to make these Calico Beans in my early 20s from the mom of a friend.
She said it was her go-to dish for potlucks.
What I love most is how versatile it is — I’ve never made it the same way twice.
Last night was my best batch so far and this is what I did.
Cut up a pound of bacon and cook until crispy.
I use kitchen shears, but a knife will work too.
Drain the bacon on a paper towel and remove all but a tablespoon of the bacon grease from the pan.
Cook a pound of lean ground beef in the pan with the bacon grease.
Be sure to scrape up all of the brown bits.
When the beef is almost finished cooking, add a chopped onion and a little salt and pepper.
Once the beef is good and brown, add a cup of ketchup and a cup of brown sugar.
It makes a rich sauce.
The original recipe calls for a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, too.
One time I forgot to add it but didn’t miss it, so I just stopped using the vinegar all together.
The Beans: Red Kidney, Cannellini, Pork and Beans, and a small can of regular Baked Beans.
Sometimes I use butter beans instead of cannellini beans.
Be sure to rinse the beans that aren’t in a sauce to remove that metal can taste.
In a big bowl, mix together the ground beef and beans.
Last but not least, add the bacon.
Pour the beans into a casserole dish and bake for one hour at 350F.
It doesn’t always take a full hour so keep an eye on it.
Make this for your next gathering and watch your friends go crazy over it!