There is nothing more delicious on a hot summer day than something divine sizzling on your grill. The other evening as My Yanni, aka My Grill Master was doing his magic, I was in the kitchen whipping up the rest of the meal.
Which suits me just fine. It’s hot out there…especially with the grill going and now that My Yanni has a charcoal grill, well forgheeeet aaaaboout it. It’s just not my thing.
My thing is standing in my kitchen in the luxury of air conditioning thank you very much.
I like to prepare the side dishes and set the scene. In the air conditioning.
So as I was going about my business in the air conditioning, I got to thinking about my favorite summer dishes. Well there’s salad. I always make a salad. I LOVE salad. But then there are all the other fantastic sides. Take for instance baked beans. I do adore baked beans. But sometimes their just too, well, predictable. So I got to thinking about it and decided to come up with something different. Something sophisticated but easy, traditional with a twist.
I decided to mix old with the new and throw in a few favs that give the old stand by a new flare.
These are the usual suspects for a “traditional” baked bean recipe only with a Wenderly twist. There’s mustard, I used dijon instead of yellow mustard, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, beans of course (but I used 4 different varieties) brown sugar, garlic and shallots (instead of onions).
Now, I must back up a minute. While I was putting this all together in my head, I glanced at the balsamic vinegar that was innocently waiting to dress my salad.
That’s when it hit me.
I remembered one of my all time favorites…a balsamic BBQ sauce by Giada De Laurentiis (she’s another one of my favs) now that would be PERFECT paired with beans.
But a regular ole baked bean dish all gussied up in a balsamic BBQ sauce just wouldn’t do. So I decided to go a sophisticated route by using a medley of beans nestled in charming ramekins, pancetta instead of bacon and the cous de gras would be baking the beans with corn bread right on top.
Yep, you heard me. Cornbread, baked right on top of the baked beans.
And that my friend is how baked beans with a cornbread cap was born.
Now here’s the skinny on how to make them.
We’ll start with the balsamic BBQ sauce.
The star of this sauce is of course….balsamic vinegar. You’ll need 1 cup.
Pour the cup of balsamic vinegar into a pan.
Look at that gorgeous balsamic vinegar.
I could just get lost in balsamic vinegar.
Look into the vinegar and you’ll get very, very sleepy…
…or at the very least see your reflection.
Once you have the balsamic vinegar in the pan, you’ll just add…
Worcestershire sauce, or “what’s this here sauce?” which is what my grandfather always called it.
And of course a little bit of salt and…
Stir all ingredients with a whisk until incorporated & smooth. Simmer on medium heat for about 15 minutes until the liquid reduces by 1/3.
Now grab your pancetta. I found mine already already diced, but of course, you could dice it yourself.
Pancetta is an Italian style bacon. It’s salty. And smokey. And simply divine. It definitely gives the beans the sophistication that I was looking for.
Saute the panetta in a little olive oil.
While the pancetta is crisping you can dice your shallots and garlic.
I decided that shallots would add a fuller flavor than plain old onions.
Now peel your shallots & garlic and dice away.
Once your pancetta is golden brown, add the shallots & garlic into the pot. The pancetta makes a nice little bed for the shallots & garlic so they don’t burn.
Now for the beans.
I used 4 different beans, kidney, navy, pinto and black beans. I love the way the different colors and sizes look and taste.
Drain the beans but don’t rinse, you’ll want some of that yummy liquid to enhance the dish.
Add the beans to the pancetta, shallots & garlic.
Gently give a stir.
Look at that gorgeous bowl of beans.
Once the balsamic BBQ sauce is reduced by 1/3, pour it into the beans.
Now mix it all together and let it simmer for about 10 minutes with the lid on stirring occasionally. The balsamic BBQ sauce needs to get to know the beans and soak up the flavor.
** WARNING ** Use all self control to not just grab a spoon and dig right in.
Next all of this deliciousness needs to be put into darling little ramekins that are sitting on a baking sheet. Trust me, you don’t want bubbled up & over baked beans all over your oven.
Fill each ramekin about 3/4 of the way.
Put the filled ramekins into a 400° oven for 30-35 minutes. You don’t want them to get to dry, you’ll be putting them back in the oven to bake off the cornbread caps.
Time to make the batter for the cornbread caps.
I used Jiffy mix. It’s a tried and true stand-by at my house.
These are the 1,2,3 easy ingredients. Jiffy mix, egg & milk.
Whisk everything together.
Now take some of that cornbread batter and dollop it onto the pre-cooked baked beans.
Stick the cornbread batter topped ramekins back into a 400° oven for 10-15 minutes. Watch to make sure that they only get golden brown and not too dry.
They should look something like this.
Grab a spoon and dig in.
Summertime never had it so good.
A traditional stand-by made into a sophisticated one dish delight.
Does it get any better than this?
Well, only if you’re smart enough to stay in the air conditioning.
Here’s the easy printable recipe:
Wenderly’s Baked Beans with Cornbread Caps
Balsamic BBQ sauce: (or use your favorite BBQ sauce)
BBQ Sauce adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3/4 cup ketchup
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 16oz can Pinto Beans
- 1 16oz can Black Beans
- 1 16oz can Kidney Beans
- 1 16oz can Navy Beans
- 2 Shallots
- 1 clove of garlic
- 4 oz Pancetta
- S&P to taste
- 2 boxes of your favorite cornbread mix plus ingredients shown on the box
For the Balsamic BBQ sauce:
Pour all ingredients into a sauce pan. Stir until incorporated and smooth. Simmer on medium heat for about 15 minutes or until reduced by 1/3. Stir frequently to avoid burning.
For the Cornbread:
Follow instructions on your box and prepare while beans are baking.
For the beans:
While sauce is reducing, dice Pancetta then saute in a dutch oven until browned. Dice shallots and garlic then add to Pancetta. Drain beans but do not rinse. When shallots are translucent add beans and BBQ sauce. Stir and let simmer with lid on for 10 minutes (stir occasionally). When finished, place 10-12 ramekins on a cookie sheet then spoon in beans filling 3/4 to the top. Bake at 400° for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove beans from oven. Pour cornbread mix on top of beans filling just below the brim of ramekins. Place back in 400° oven for another 10-15 minutes (refer to your box’s instructions) or until golden brown.
Serve and enjoy!