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Root Beer Baked Black Beans

Mary Anne here. Ready…aim…fire up those grills! Labor Day is upon us and those coals will glow red-hot for summer’s last official chow down. My family will undoubtedly be expecting the traditional assortment of Slow Roasted Ribs Macaroni Salad, Deviled Eggs, Corn Salad, Tomato and Brie and Mariel’s Cheddar Black Bean Cornbread.

This year, I’ve also decided to spruce things up with a new side – Root Beer Baked Beans – which I’ve declared the perfect partner to Southern Fried Chicken, Honey and Herb Marinated Sirloin, Pulled Chicken Sammies and whatever gloopy, gooey, oh-so-delicious dish you and yours like to throw down on the bar-b.

I opted to use black beans – a.k.a. Turtle beans – rather than the usual white bean varieties since these ebony legumes are loaded with fiber, antioxidants and protein…and virtually no fat. They’re an excellent choice for those struggling with diabetes or hypoglycemia because they regulate glycemic levels. Translation — they derail post-feast blood sugar crashes, which is no small boon at family gatherings.

One last thing about these black beauties: they’re an excellent source of a trace mineral named molybdenum, which helps detoxify the sulfites found in processed foods (like the bacon in my recipe!). Speaking of bacon – omit it and serve an arguably healthier version to your vegetarian pals; simply swap in Canola oil for the bacon drippings.

Root Beer Baked Black Beans
Makes 8–10 Side Servings

Note 1: Don’t use diet soda: it becomes bitter when heated.

Note 2: If you plan to make these ahead of time, the sauce will get even thicker when the beans are reheated. I added a healthy dollop of root beer and barbeque sauce to produce more liquid.

5 slices thick-cut, smoked bacon, coarsely diced – $1.90
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped (about 2 ½ cups) – $0.79
2 cloves of garlic, minced – stock
4-15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained – $3.16
1 ¼ cups root beer  (or cola, or Dr. Pepper) – $0.99
2 tablespoons dark molasses (I had Blackstrap on hand) – stock
2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard – stock
1/3 cup barbeque sauce – $0.49
½ Teaspoon dry mustard – stock
1 ½ teaspoons chili powder – stock
2-3 drops of Tabasco, or to taste – stock
1 Teaspoon salt – stock
1 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper – stock
Grand Total Assuming Well-Stocked Pantry: $7.33
Total Per 8 Side Servings: $0.92

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Using a large, oven proof pot, sauté the diced bacon over medium-high heat until crisp, stirring occasionally.

2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels.

3. Drain off all but about 3 Tablespoons of the drippings from the pot. Add the onions and sauté until pale gold, stirring often, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking for about 2 minutes.

4. Add the beans, root beer, molasses, mustards, chili powder, Tabasco, barbeque sauce, salt, and pepper, stirring well to combine. Stir in the bacon and bring to a boil.

5. Transfer to the oven and bake, uncovered until the liquid slightly thickens, about 20 to 25 minutes.