Saturday, June 23, 2012

Franks & Beans

You're invited to a Saturday night suppah in Maine!

This post is dedicated to Mr. Bear,
who took bean pot cleanup very seriously.
I grew up in a home where baked beans, coleslaw and hot dogs were almost always on the weekly dinner menu.

In my neighborhood, you could drive by a grange hall on any day of the week and have a 99% chance of spotting a sign reading, "Baked Bean Supper, Saturday at 5pm. All welcome!" So, I think it’s fair to say that I know what a good baked bean recipe tastes like. I also know that it is far from the fanciest of meals. However, a really good baked bean recipe overpowers what the Maine delicacy may look like on the plate.

Recently, I was challenged to play around with the classic dinner...or, suppah, if you will, of Franks and Beans! If you are unfamiliar, traditional franks and beans is a one-pot dinner where hot dogs are cooked in the same sauce as the baked beans.

I spent some time googling (isn't that the synonym for going to the library?) traditional franks and beans recipes and I kept finding one common denominator: the beans used in the recipes were canned.

Well, I'm going to get a little fancy-pants on my franks and beans recipe and go gourmet. I don't really think gourmet is the first adjective that comes to mind when people think of franks and beans. But, everyone likes to dress up once in a while! And, I mean, this is a challenge. I must bring my A-game…or B-game, since we’re talkin’ beans.

Okay, let's not get too ahead of ourselves here...the beans aren't going to look any fancier (picture a bean tower made with a rosti ring, served with a caviar garnish) No. No, we aren't going in that direction, but their prep will be a little fancier, as will their ingredients.

Instead of using canned baked beans, we are going to soak the beans overnight, and they will cook all day in their sauce. And those franks, or as my sister used to say, "daw daws" are going to join the beans a little later and slow-cook along with them, adding an additional punch of flavor. We could almost call this recipe Franks & Beans Confit...almost.

A traditional franks and beans recipe is all about convenience, and maybe that's why most recipes list canned beans as the way to go. But baking your own baked beans can be so satisfying! The oven does most of the work and you also get to control what flavors you put in the beans. You can go as simple or as gourmet as you want. It's actually kind of fun!

My mom always served her baked beans with coleslaw, and that’s what I recommend you do with this recipe, as well.

It never fails that we have too much beans and coleslaw…
What do I do with the leftovers? I throw them in a sandwich, like my mom always did for our lunch. Think it's weird? JUST TRY IT!

Franks & Beans
serves 4-6 soak time: overnight | prep time: 15 min | cook time: 8 hrs 35 min

  • 1/c. dried beans (about 10 oz) – I use navy, kidney and black*
  • 1/2 yellow onion, cut into 8 wedges
  • 4 crushed black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/c. tomato paste (tomato paste freezes really well)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T cider vinegar
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 T brewed coffee (you’ll most likely be doing this in the morning, so use some of your breakfast Jo!)
  • 1/4 c. maple syrup
  • 2 T molasses
  • 1 tsp dried coriander
  • 2 x 2” cut of salt pork
  • 3 beef/pork hot dogs (or any combo of meats you like)

*I like to buy the same amount of all 3 types of beans I have listed above. I then pick them over for stones and mud pebbles and place them in a huge jar, where I can shake them to combine evenly. Then they are available whenever I want to make baked beans, hassle-free!

Place the beans in a glass bowl and cover with enough water to rise 2 inches above the beans. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to soak overnight.

Drain the beans and rinse once.

Preheat the oven to 250˚ F.
In a sauté pan, with 2-inch sides, add the beans, 1 quart of water, the onion, peppercorns and bay leaf. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 25 minutes. 

Test the beans to see if they are ready by picking a couple up with a spoon and blowing on them. If their skin peels back, they are done.

Using a slotted spoon, place beans, onion and bay leaf in a 2 quart or larger bean pot (a Dutch oven will work, as well). Reserve the liquid.

In small saucepan you’re going to create a homemade ketchup base. On medium-low heat, add the tomato paste, whisk in the garlic, cider vinegar, 1 T of the reserved bean water, brown sugar and salt. Simmer 2 minutes, whisking a few times.

Whisk in the Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, brewed coffee, maple syrup, molasses, coriander and 1/2 cups remaining cooking liquid from the beans. 

If you do not have enough remaining cooking liquid, add enough water to make 1 1/2 cups.
Simmer 5 minutes.

Pour over beans, mix in.

Cut an “X” down to the rind of the salt pork and place on top of the beans.
Cover and cook for 6 hours.

Slice several slits into the hot dogs, 3/4 of the way through. 

After 6 hours, push the hot dogs into the center of the beans, spooning some of the beans over to cover them. Replace cover. Bake for 2 more hours.

Serve with coleslaw and crusty bread…or red wine because, yes, you can certainly go there!


  1. Yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum! So Maine, so lovely

  2. Beanos and Dawdaws are the best!

  3. A good bean dinner should make you toot! That's when you know it was the best.

  4. this makes me smile! thanks for a great website, lara :)

  5. This recipe is totally rad, but i will try it! (Booker would want me to:)

  6. Can you use something besides salt pork?

    1. Hello! Thanks for stopping by. I really need to get some new recipes cookin' soon!

      Thick-cut bacon would be a good substitute for the salt pork, or you could even make this recipe, omitting the salt pork all together. You will miss a bit of the flavor element that it brings but it is still possible :)

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