This is a dish that I remember from living at home, but I didn’t know its origin. I just knew it wasn’t French! Out of the blue my sister recently asked me about crunchy beans, and I told her I was making it for the blog! With her being four years older, she had the distinct memory of how the very American recipe infiltrated our mother’s kitchen.
In my sister’s words: “In the early 60s, our family visited new friends Larry and Aimée, at their home for dinner. Crunchy Beans, all hot and bubbly from the oven, was served. Our mom was slightly insulted because, being French, she would never have served beans to guests.
She was very formal about those kinds of things and tended to judge accordingly. To her, a leg of lamb, one of several courses, would have been more appropriate. (She would even warm plates before serving food.) But, as it turned out, we loved the Crunchy Beans! It was an interesting and delicious combination of flavors that we were not used to, not to mention the catsup – quelle horreur! We acquired the recipe, and it became a family favorite.”
I found this photo from back then, my mother on the left with her poodle Minouche, Larry and Aimée (The Bean Cookers), and me with the long braids.
These beans are really easy to make, because you use canned pork and beans for the base. My husband, who grew up on such beans, recommends Van Camp’s brand.
Cooking beans from scratch is easy and economical, but there is something about this recipe that’s really fun. It’s also easy and good!
3 – 15 ounce cans Van Camp’s pork and beans
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 carrots, peeled, finely chopped
4 celery ribs, finely chopped
2/3 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds, lightly crushed
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/3 cup bacon grease
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place all of the ingredients in a large Le Creuset or similar pot and bake for one hour.
They look like this when they’re done baking.
I served the crunchy beans with hot dogs!
And of course you can cut up the hot dogs and put them in the beans… but I wouldn’t.
But they’re definitely good with burgers and sausages.