When it comes to recipes, I love the principle of “Occam’s Razor.” The “official” version is this — Occam’s razor is a problem-solving principle attributed to William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347), who was an English Franciscan friar and scholastic philosopher and theologian. The principle can be stated thusly, “Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.” It is also known as “the law of economy” or “law of parsimony”, which essentially states “plurality should not be posited without necessity.” The principle gives precedence to simplicity: if there are two or more competing theories, the simpler explanation is not only preferred, but most often is the best one. Another way the principle is expressed is “Entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity.” This principle of course, has been massaged and tweaked over the centuries, but in spite of all the scholarly definitions, it boils down to a very simple common denominator: the simplest solution is usually the best solution.
I like that principle when it comes to recipes. (or ingredients) Oh yes, we can make the case for multiple and sometimes complex ingredients, long and slow cooking times, exacting prep work and the like, and there are many recipes, even here on my own blog that easily fall into those categories. But, here’s one that I’ve been using for years, thrown together with a few simple ingredients, but it has stood the test of time and always comes out tasty, flavorful, and tantalyzingly good!
Baked beans come in many varieties and numerous recipes abound. American Boston baked beans typically use a sauce prepared with molasses and salt pork, (sometimes bacon), the popularity of which has led to the city being nicknamed “Beantown”. Beans in a tomato and brown sugar sauce are a widely available type throughout the U.S. and Canada, although Canada’s Quebec-style beans often use maple syrup instead of molasses. In Ireland and the United Kingdom, a tomato and sugar sauce is most commonly used, and they are commonly eaten on toast or as part of a full English breakfast.
My American Baked Beans, a recipe that is simplicity itself, uses just five basic ingredients. I think what I like most about this recipe is that it calls for very simple and very basic ingredients, and only a few of them, but once they and mixed and melded and baked in the oven, the integration of those simple ingredients come together to give an amazing performance, and after only one taste, they will deserve a standing ovation!
6 strips of bacon, cut in half (half strips make it easier to serve when done)
1/2 – 3/4 cup of ketchup (adjust amount to taste)
1/2 of a medium size onion, roughly chopped (adjust amount to taste)
1/2 cup Grandma’s molasses (adjust amount to taste.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Pour the beans into a pyrex or other oven-proof casserole dish.
Add the remaining ingredients, stir to mix lightly
Top with bacon strips.
Place in oven for 45 minutes, or bacon is brown and crispy and contents are thoroughly heated.
Serve as an accompaniment or side dish for picnics or with grilled dishes. Goes especially well with fried chicken/wings and potato salad.
Also prepares well as individual servings, such as individual corningware or chili crock bowls. Just divvy up the mixture into separate smaller bowls instead of one larger pyrex dish. Cooking directions are the same.