Fancy pants me invites my girlfriends for dinner one night, thinking I might wow them with this chocolate cake. I can’t remember what I actually made, but I do remember that the hit of the night was Retro Rose’s baked lima beans. It was a proud moment for her and for me.
She cooks differently. She leans to old fashioned comfort food, and I go a little more modern. We both love each other’s food because we make everything differently even tomato sauce. I can pop over to her house and go crazy for her green beans in tomato sauce, because it never tastes as good as hers. There are some dishes that she makes that seem to be so powerful in flavor that you can almost feel her soul in them.
These baked large lima beans or butter beans are one of those dishes.
We are women and we can’t share a kitchen. I go to her house to eat and I don’t dare touch anything. She has her ways and I have mine. Today is a rare day. She came over to my kitchen to make her soon to be world famous baked beans so I can chronicle the recipe. Like most old timey, good cooks, she just does it out of her head.
These are what the beans look like after they have soaked in the water all night.
These are no ordinary baked beans. Retro Rose likes everything big. Her meatballs are more baseball than golf ball. Her beans are an inch long and a half inch wide. They are called large lima beans or to some of you, butter beans. There is a lot of chatter on the internet about the differences, and I think I’ll side with the folks who say that they are one and same, but feel free to chime in with your comments.
The beans are meaty, creamy, earthy and sweet as much as a bean can be sweet. The beans are purchased dry, and soaked over night. Then the fun begins.
We went back and forth with Retro Rose wanting to add a lot more brown sugar, but I only had a little over a cup in the pantry, and she was horrified. “You told me you had brown sugar?” I had no idea she really meant BROWN SUGAR. So we turned to more maple syrup and while we were at it, why not a little bourbon.
We baked one small dish so I could take pictures and then marinated the remaining beans meant for July 4th in the sauce for several hours, transporting them to the crock pot overnight. Normally, Retro Rose only bakes the beans, but I wanted to make sure they would be done in time. If using dried beans, I recommend cooking them almost all the way before baking them. If using canned beans, they can head straight into the oven.
All I can say is my house smells amazing, and we can’t wait to eat.
- 1 pound dry large lima beans (or 6 cans)
- Benton's bacon (2 ounces) or 6 ounces of regular bacon (see note)
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1 small red bell pepper, finely diced
- 16 ounces tomato sauce
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup maple syrup
- dash cinnamon
- dash nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- water as needed
- Soak beans overnight
- Chop bacon into large bits and fry.
- Add onions and pepper and dash salt to the bacon grease. Saute for a few minutes just to wilt.
- In a bowl add tomato sauce, ketchup, onions and peppers, brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, more salt and pepper and mix.
- Add in bourbon and taste. You might want to add a touch more. The alcohol will bake off. The beans must be thoroughly in the liquid and keep in mind the liquid will reduce down. Add in water as needed.
- Mix with beans in a shallow baking dish and add in bacon.
- Bake at 300 for about 4 hours or until it gets gooey and caramelized and beans are cooked.
- Option: Put the beans in a slow cooker overnight on low or for about 6 hours until done.