Today, I made my first pot of from-scratch baked beans.
Reporting this accomplishment produced shock waves among some friends. They knew that I made baked beans. They knew that some family members are in love with my beans. But now my true secret is out. They are not from scratch. (I am sorry...but not really.) My usual creation always starts with a can of Bush's, adds onion, garlic, bacon, ground beef, brown sugar, molasses, dry mustard, and other seasonings along with a variety of pre-cooked beans. I love the calico look of combining butter beans, navy beans, black beans, and pintos all in the same pot...but they really aren't homemade baked beans. (Again, I am sorry...but not really. They ARE good.)
Not even knowing that I wanted real, homemade baked beans, I was intrigued by a recipe on Phoo-d's Blog for Bourbon Bacon Baked Beans. Real, homemade, from-scratch baked beans. The ingredients were collected, and today, I sauteed and simmered and simmered and simmered. The aroma of molasses and bacon wafted through the house during the 6 hours of cooking time. My stomach growled in anticipation of these slow-cooked, from-scratch baked beans. And, when they were finally ready, I was...slightly disappointed.
Don't misunderstand. The recipe is good. It just wasn't quite what I want in baked beans. I loved the smokiness that came from the bourbon and the coffee, but the combination of the pineapple and brown sugar was just too sweet for me. I also like more of a kick to my beans, and only a pinch of hot pepper flakes didn't make my taste buds sing. While I did create a perfectly serviceable pot of from-scratch baked beans, in the future, either this recipe will be tweaked or I will try something new. It wasn't a hit for me.
Anyway...after I had dropped all of the ingredients into the pot for the beans, I realized that I had focused so intently on the fact that I was finally making real baked beans that I didn't have anything planned to serve with them. Duh. Something told me that regardless of how the beans turned out, dinner would be a miss for the Hubs if it was only beans.
An informal poll on Twitter came away with suggestions for corn bread, ribs, and sausages. While I did defrost a couple racks of lamb ribs to be smoked at the farm tomorrow (and served up with the leftover baked beans), it was sausages that won the chance to appear on my plate beside the beans tonight, simply because they could be defrosted easily. However, just because the sausages were a second thought, didn't mean that they got second rate attention. I pulled a sure hit recipe from my files for my kielbasa.
Sausage Sandwiches with Sauteed Pepper and Onion Sauce are a blend of flavors that do make my taste buds sing. How can you go wrong with onions and pepper fried up in olive oil? Generally, I wouldn't have thought to pair red wine and kielbasa, but it works. Really. No disappointments. It isn't a miss with Sausage Sandwiches with Sauteed Pepper and Onion Sauce On My Plate.
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
3 bell peppers, cut into strips
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 pound kielbasa, cooked and cut in half lengthwise and cut crosswise into 6-inch long pieces
1 cup red wine
2/3 cups sliced black olives (kalamata are even better)
4 hoagie buns or other firm rolls, toasted
In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over med high heat.
Add onions and sauteed until onions are soft.
Stir in peppers and saute until peppers are lightly browned.
Add sugar and paprika and stir to coat.
Transfer mixture to a plate but leave drippings in pan.
Add remaining oil (1 tablespoon) to skillet.
Add sausage and heat until browned and heated through.
Transfer sausage to plate with onions and peppers.
Add wine to skillet and heat until reduced by half.
Return sausage/pepper/onion mixture to skillet and stir in olives.
Cook until heated through.
Fill each toasted bun with sausages; top with onions and peppers; spoon juices over.
(Can also make open-faced and top with Provolone cheese and heat under broiler until bubbly and melted.) Serves 4