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Bacon in my beans


We have loved raising our family in Cedarville. It’s an agricultural town and a university town and lots more!

A couple of weeks ago we attended Farmers’ Night at Cedarville University — a lovely dinner to honor the farm families plus great entertainment that the university opened up to the entire community. The entertainment was our very own Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers. Joe is a friend and neighbor, and his kids went to high school with our daughter Anna. Joe is a gifted singer and banjo picker, as well as band leader and radio broadcaster. Joe and the Radio Ramblers have played at the Grand Ole Opry many times, and they received the 2019 International Bluegrass Music Association Entertainers of the year award. We love to have them perform at our Ice Cream Social.

One day when Joe stopped by our house, I challenged him to find us a good Ohio song. We just needed a real upbeat song about Ohio! Joe found Tom Ewing’s song entitled “O-hio.” I love it! He and the Radio Ramblers recorded it on their 2019 album “For the Record.” It’s a great album “that can lighten your load and lift your spirit,” as Joe says.

At the Cedarville Farmers’ Night concert, Joe challenged me! He knew I wrote a food column, and he had another song on his newest album: “Bacon in My Beans.” It’s a song that will make you smile:

“First let me say you’re worth some sacrificin’. Not much I wouldn’t change to be with you. I’ve got to say you’re asking me for something I could never do. I’ll bring your mom to church with us on Sundays. I’ll join the gym and try to stay real lean. But if I could I’m asking one small favor. I’ve got to have some bacon in my beans!”

So bacon it is in my beans this week! For fun I tried several recipes. I have a Black Bean Soup recipe in my 12th cookbook which is made in a crock-pot with canned black beans, onions, garlic, tomatoes, chilies, polish sausage and of course, bacon. It’s great to make ahead in the crock-pot and have ready for company. Most of the time in the summer when I’m in a hurry and want a good side dish for a picnic, I just add chopped onions, green peppers, ketchup, brown sugar or maple syrup, and bacon to canned pork and beans, and put them in the oven to bake. If I have time, I like to cook some dry pinto beans in a heavy cast iron pot with bacon, onions, green peppers and garlic. I adapted my recipe from the Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Cowboy Beans, though I don’t put as much green pepper or brown sugar in as she does.

But for this one, I’m with Joe. I’ll “cut back on the burgers, make vegetables routine! Got to have some bacon in my beans!” Come on over, Joe!

Cowboy Beans

2 pounds dry pinto beans

1 pound thick-cut bacon, cut into pieces

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 onion, chopped

2-4 cloves garlic, minced

¾ cup brown sugar or ½ cup maple syrup

¼ cup ketchup

2 Tablespoons mustard

1 Tablespoon chili powder

2 teaspoons salt

1-2 teaspoons black pepper

Rinse the beans with cold water and sort out any rocks or other particles.

Sauté bacon pieces in heavy pot until it is about half cooked and the fat is rendered. Add the onions and peppers and garlic to the bacon and sauté for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the beans, and about enough water to cover them by 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Add the maple syrup (or brown sugar), ketchup, mustard, chili powder, salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook 3 to 4 hours, until beans are tender, and liquid is thick. (Add more water if necessary during cooking.) Check seasonings and add extra salt and pepper to taste.

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By Fran DeWine

Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native and guest columnist.