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When our friends Cynthia and Robert asked if we could come to dinner, Suzen automatically said yes. And I was so happy.

Robert is gentleman, with a talent for sangria. Cynthia is an exceptional party cook. Everything, and I mean everything, at her meals is wonderful. This Saturday there were spiced cashews on the first table. And dessert featured her chocolate pecan pie — she’s an Oklahoma woman — and a fresh mango trifle. I, uh, was planning on getting a third dip of that delightful trifle, but I noticed Suzen noticing me. And saying it was “fruit” was only going to draw hell. Besides I’d already had dessert with the main meal.

While everything Cynthia serves seems perfect, these baked beans were astonishing. They “dominated” the plate. There were ribs and chicken and slaw, but Lord there were these beans. All the table conversations shifted from golf, politics and Arizona real estate to these beans.

In a phrase, these are the best beans I have ever had. They are sweet, intense, with a balanced flavor. There’s just the right amount of each ingredient. It clearly represents lots of tries and a passion for bean perfection.

Here is the recipe from Cynthia. And to give full credit, the recipe is credited to Paula Deen from the Food Network.

food network. There are tradeoffs in life. Flavor versus healthiness is one of them.

On this night, I voted for flavor.

Cynthia used very thick strips of high quality bacon, and not super lean. The bacon fat was certainly a contributor to the overall flavor. Look for “up-scale” cans of pork and beans, a “good” mustard and other quality ingredients. It’ll pay off.

[Oh, I am going to get that mango trifle recipe!]

Best Baked Beans Period

Yield: 6 servings


  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 16-ounce cans pork and beans
  • 3 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ pound bacon strips, cut into ½-inch pieces


In a Dutch oven, mix the onion, pork and beans, mustard, maple syrup, light brown sugar, ketchup and lemon juice. Top with the bacon pieces. Bake, covered, for 45-60 minutes.

In the picture above, the Dutch oven was replaced by a glass baking dish. And, “topping” with bacon can be an art form. You can give  the dish a apple-pie-style basket weave. In that case, bring the beans to the table for all to see.


Sources: Paula Deen