Homemade baked beans with ham

Summertime means campfires, and campfires mean hot dogs and beans.

This summer I decided that homemade beans would be a treat over the old standard canned beans.

While these can be made without ham, I wanted to experiment using a ham bone, since we enjoyed a bone-in shank of ham and had the bone left with a bunch of meat still on it. This is usually used for homemade soup, but being summertime, who wanted soup!!

Any dried beans will do, but I opted for black-eyed peas and some great northern (white) beans. I soaked them overnight, and in the morning, drained them, filled an oven safe pot with water, and got them simmering.

I cooked them for an hour, then saved the cooking liquid and drained them.

I then experimented and strayed from the usual beans recipe. I chopped up onions, mushrooms and a variety of peppers – bell peppers as well as jalapeño.

I sautéed those in the bottom of the pot. Once everything was softened, I carmelized the vegetables by throwing in a couple of ounces of whiskey. This added a nice flavour to the beans.

I then added the ham bone, and poured in a cup of the cooking liquid that was preserved, as well as a cup of ketchup, ½ a cup of brown sugar, two tablespoons of dijon mustard, some hot sauce, pepper (I did not add salt because ham tends to be salty) and a bay leaf.

Then I mixed everything and covered the bone, and put the pot in the oven, covered, at 300F for four or five hours. Check them every hour or so, and give them a stir, to be sure they aren’t sticking to the pot. If they look dry, add more cooking liquid.

Once finished, scoop out the ham bone. Most of the meat will have fallen off the bone. Any meat left, cut off the bone and discard the bone. I also picked out large pieces of meat and cut them into smaller pieces.

I was so excited when I took the beans out of the oven that I forgot to take a picture!

Once cooked, I put the beans into glass containers and into the fridge to save for a campfire. We cooked them the next evening in our Mexican clay pot, over the open fire, and they were amazing! Some of us spooned them on the plate…some of us made our own special version of sloppy joes.

These can be modified to suit your tastes, by adding bourbon, molasses, different spices and different kinds of beans. They are easy to make and well worth the effort.

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