Cookin’ in the Kitchen: Cowboy Baked Beans with a Kick — during the Coronavirus threat

Wow, so much has changed in the world in just a few weeks. It is hard to imagine at the start of 2020 that Louisiana and many other states would be under a “stay at home” order for the very serious health treat of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Our governor says that Louisiana has one of the fasting growing trajectories of this virus — due to the city of New Orleans and I’m guessing the tourist trade. Stay at home also means to cook at home. This includes being flexible and adaptable with ingredients on hand in your pantry. But who wants to spend all day cooking and washing dishes? For the next several weeks,  I’m going to post one-pot dishes which are simple to prepare and allow for substitution of ingredients. “Cowboy Baked Beans with a Kick” is one of these recipes.

One Pot Recipes

Here are some of the recipes which I plan to feature over the next several weeks. Do you have suggestions? Let me know. I love a challenge.

Cowboy Baked Beans

“Cowboy Baked Beans” is a dish made with ground beef, bacon and some sort of dried beans or canned beans. It typically includes barbecue sauce which gives the dish a tangy sweet and sour taste. It is really almost a “meal-in-one” or type of stew. I’ve taken this concoction to many covered dish suppers and have always received rave reviews.

This is also a very flexible recipe in terms of ingredients. You can substitute various types of canned beans in the recipe, change up the type of pepper or swap brown sugar for molasses. Today I didn’t have barbecue sauce in my pantry and just omitted it. No bacon? Omit it. You could also omit the parsley flakes and Worcestershire sauce or use a different type of vinegar. So, take a look around at your ingredients and see how you can adapt.

The recipe does include several basic ingredients including ground beef. When I went shopping last week, my local grocery store was totally out of traditional ground beef. However, they did have several packages of  “ground beef for chili” left which has a courser grind. It works well in the recipe. You could also substitute ground turkey or even sausage.

Bush’s Home Style Baked Beans is essential in this recipe and I always have several cans of this ingredient in my pantry. I added a can of drained and rinsed black beans to my stew. You could also include red kidney beans or white beans in place of or in addition to the black beans.

The “kick” in the recipe comes from the small Serrano pepper shown in the photo. It has just enough “hot” flavor to add a “Cajun” touch. You could substitute 1/2 green bell pepper for a milder stew or omit this ingredient entirely.

The tangy flavor comes from the “homemade barbecue sauce” of ketchup, molasses, cider vinegar, dried mustard, dried parsley flakes, salt and pepper. If you don’t have molasses around, then use brown sugar. But I do like the molasses flavor.

One pot dish

This is an easy dish to prepare. It makes a large recipe, so start with a large pot. Although this may sound a little redundant, how many times have I had to change pots in the middle of a recipe because I didn’t gauge things correctly? Think big.

To make the recipe, brown the ground beef, onions and Serrano pepper. Drain the black beans (or red kidney beans, white beans) and add to the pot along with the un-drained Bush’s Home-style Baked Beans. Then stir in the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, stirring. Then lower the heat and let the “stew” simmer for 15 minutes to 30 minutes.

That is it! Simple enough. This tasty dish is high in protein and it is one way to include ground beef but also “extend” or cut down on animal protein. We will be eating this large pot for several meals!  And, that’s another way to cut down on “cookin’ in the kitchen” — make large recipes. What are your recipe ideas? I’d like to hear.

Cowboy Baked Beans with a Kick

  • Servings: 6 to 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped (1-1/2 cups)
  • 1 Serrano pepper, finely diced (or 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped)
  • 1 (28 oz) can Bush’s Home-style Baked Beans
  • 1 (15.25) can black beans, drained and rinsed (and/or red kidney beans, white beans)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup molasses (or 1/3 cup brown sugar)
  • 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp parsley flakes
  • 1/4 tsp dried ground mustard
  • 1 tsp salt (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Method and Steps:

  1. Add ground meat, chopped onions and minced Seranno pepper (or green bell pepper) to a large heavy pot or Dutch oven. Brown the ground meat mixture over medium heat until no pink remains.
  2. Add remaining ingredients – Bush’s Home-style Baked Beans, drained and rinsed black beans (and/or red kidney beans and white beans), ketchup, molasses (or brown sugar), cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, parsley flakes, dried ground mustard, salt (optional) and black mustard. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Then reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 to 30 minutes, uncovered, until cooked through.
  3. Serve from the pot. Leftovers taste just as good or even better when reheated the next day!

Enjoy! and keep safe.

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