Calico Beans: Beef, Bacon, Bean Casserole
Calico Beans; This hearty ground beef, bacon, and bean casserole bubbles away in a delicious barbecue sauce while you spend your day enjoying the fall weather. It can be prepared in the oven or slow-cooker! Yes, the recipe makes quite a bit, but it freezes and reheats beautifully, so dive right in and enjoy!
For the Sauce (Optional: Can replace homemade sauce with 3 cups of purchased Barbecue Sauce):
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons cider or white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons dried mustard powder
- 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke tasty but optional.
- 2 cloves garlic peeled and minced or pressed
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the Casserole:
- 1 batch barbecue sauce Homemade or purchased Barbecue Sauce
- 2 pounds of sliced bacon
- 2 pounds lean ground beef venison, or elk
- 1 small onion or 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder, peeled and finely chopped
- 6 cups Butter beans or 3 cans drained
- 6 cups kidney beans or 3 cans with liquid
- 4 cups pork and beans or 2 cans with liquid
To Make the Casserole:
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Stack the two pounds of bacon and cut across the slices making 1/2-inch wide strips. In a large skillet, fry the bacon, stirring frequently, until crisp and brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Drain the bacon grease from the pan (preferably into a jar and in the refrigerator for adding flavour to other dishes!)
Put the pan back over medium high heat and break up the ground beef into it. If using the onion, add it at this point. Continue breaking it up with a spoon as you cook it until the beef is browned. If necessary, drain any excess fat away from the meat. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the sauce, beef, bacon, and beans until well combined.
To Make in the Slow-Cooker:
Spray the bowl of a slow-cooker crock insert with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the mixture into the insert, cover, and cook on LOW for 4 to 6 hours or until very bubbly and hot all the way through.
Store leftovers tightly covered in the refrigerator or divide into individual meal sized portions and freeze in an airtight container for up to 6 months. Reheat with a dash of water in a covered saucepan or in the microwave.