Story last updated at 5/21/2014 - 5:54 pm
I grew up in a nuclear family, and my parents have been happily married for 54 years. I confess I had a relatively uneventful childhood apart from moving frequently, as my father was an enlisted man in the Army. Both mom and dad are from North Carolina, which is where my Southern roots took hold. These roots are what make me who I am, why I have a slight accent, and are why I am blessed with a love for food and a desire to become a really great cook.
I am currently visiting my parents, who have retired in Nevada. My spontaneous visit has been full of taking care of mom and dad, responding to things for work back in Juneau, and cooking. It has been a joy sharing new recipes for my parents. I made the fiesta frittata for them yesterday, and mom shared a recipe with me. I love culinary reciprocity.
As mentioned in many columns I come from the Southeast. Not Southeast Alaska, which I love, but the true Southeast, Georgia — the state of warm coastal waters, peaches and redneck food. Usually, redneck foods are fried. However, many are prepared with salt pork or ham hocks, cooked until hardly recognizable and may contain at least a pound of butter. While I don’t make a habit of dining in the style of my heritage, I do enjoy a nice crispy fried chicken leg, green beans cooked slowly in salt pork and cornbread slathered in butter. My waistline indicates that my choice to limit such fare is probably a good one.
Now that I’m visiting my parents, I long for my mom’s cooking: her steak and gravy, ultimate scrambled eggs and — best of all — her redneck baked beans. The wonderful thing about southerners and our cooking is that we take simple, inexpensive foods and create something absolutely delicious.
Mom’s baked beans are such a dish. They start from the humblest of beginnings: two cans of pork and beans. I can hear the collective groaning. Pork and beans? Does anyone buy those anymore? I’d venture to say yes, and most of the folks who do also come from east of the Mississippi.
I was thrilled to learn her secret baked bean recipe and that it was so ridiculously simple. Mom has shared many a recipe with me and I’ve passed them along to my children, a few friends and even in several of my columns. What I appreciate most of all is that when I make these, I have great memories eating wonderful meals, laughing and sharing stories at the dinner table, and learning from one of the best cooks I’ve ever known. I am truly blessed.
This week I present a recipe that brings me fond memories and a few laughs because of the basic ingredient: Miss Marlene’s Redneck Baked Beans. I encourage everyone to write down those family recipes, share with the next generation and if you’re so inclined, I’d love to hear about what your family cooks.
Until next time…
Eat and enjoy,
Miss Marlene’s Redneck Baked Beans
2 cans pork and beans
1 small yellow or white onion, diced
¼ cup BBQ sauce (whatever your favorite)
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
4 slices bacon, cut in half
Preheat oven to 350o. Spray a 9”x9” baking pan or small casserole dish with cooking spray. Pour in beans and add all ingredients except bacon. Stir well and top with bacon slices. Make sure the whole top is covered.
Bake for 20 minutes until bacon is well cooked and beans are bubbling. Turn oven on broil and cook additional 3 minutes, remove from oven, turn bacon slices over and cook addition 2 minutes. This process will crisp the bacon the edges and render the fat into the beans, adding additional deliciousness.