The impending Labor Day holiday means that summer is rapidly drawing to a close. All across the country, people are starting to shift into their back-to-school and work routines. There’s still a little time left before you pack up the citronella candles, however, to squeeze in one more fiesta.
The secret to end-of-season party giving is to keep it super simple. No need for complicated cocktails or loads of decorations. Buy watermelon, corn on the cob and tomatoes. They are at their best right now and need nothing to be delicious.
Tell your guests to bring something to throw on the grill (and make sure you have a couple packages of backup hotdogs, just in case). Put out an easy green salad. And for your single cooked item, make a pot of The Pioneer Woman’s Cowboy Bacon Beans.
They simmer for a long time, but other than giving the pot an occasional stir, it’s really all hands-off cooking, so it doesn’t feel like much work at all. They are filling and flavorful, and they taste of both summer and fall, which makes them perfect for your end-of-the-season Weekender.
Before you start cooking, read these tips:
— If you have time, make these beans the day before you want to serve them. Then all you have to do is worry about reheating them (chilling the beans down also allows you to remove some of the rendered bacon fat).
— For those of you who love your slow cookers, this recipe would easily convert to an all-day slow-cooker dish. Just saute the bacon, green peppers and onions in a skillet, then transfer them to the crock with the rest of the ingredients.
— The Pioneer Woman instructs you to cover the beans by just an inch of water. I found that my beans needed more like two inches before they were truly tender, so don’t be shy with the liquid.
— If pork isn’t your thing, this recipe could also be made with beef or turkey bacon. That would also make for a slightly leaner bean.
Marisa McClellan is a food writer and canning teacher who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her first cookbook, Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round, is now available.