Actually, those are good questions!. Some of the recipes call for dicing the bacon first, then frying, and some call for frying the bacon in strips, then crumbling. Some recipes call for as little as 4 slices of bacon and I have another Baked Bean Casserole that calls for an entire pound of bacon!
To me, it is about which technique you want to use: either lying the individual strips down in a fry pan and then dealing with turning them one piece at a time. Or... dice the bacon, then fry it. That's the way I like to do it because then I don't have to deal with individual slices -- I just toss in the raw, diced bacon and cook it up! I always do it that way when I have to make a lot of diced/crumbled bacon, say for salads or baked potatoes for a large group of guests, where I am frying up to 2 pounds of bacon at a time. Also, when you dice the bacon before frying, you can make the pieces all the same size, unlike crumbling where the bacon sort of breaks in different sizes.
Either way you cook the bacon, when I make it (I'm sure there are variations here) I want the bacon fully rendered but not totally crisp and brittle. If you over-fry it, the drippings will have bits of burned bacon and what you want is to gently render out the fat, so you can cook the onion and ground beef in it. I'm sure there are folks out there who even put that bacon in this dish raw! My grandmother always laid several strips or raw bacon over her baked beans before cooking them! She did this, also, with her meat loaf. I also have a baked bean recipe that calls for diced salt pork -- boy, that is really raw, LOL.
Any way... good questions! This recipe is so totally forgiving. If you do a search online for "baked bean casserole with ground beef", many versions will pop up
. Some call for molasses, some catsup, some bottled BBQ sauce. Some call for canned green lima beans, some for pinto beans.
To drain or not to drain the pork and beans is another question (definitely drain the other canned beans). I will be doing these today in a crockpot, so I think I will drain all the beans to take off extra liquid that doesn't cook off during while in the crockpot. If I was baking this, as called for in the recipe I posted, I would want that extra "stuff" from the pork and beans, otherwise it might be too dry. So, now that Maynard has brought this to my attention -- let's just say that it would be best TO NOT drain the pork and beans, unless you are doing it in a crockpot.
For me this recipe has sort of evolved over the years and so my instructions perhaps are not as clear and cleanly stated as they should be
. However..... no matter what variation, guests always love this one!
Have a great weekend, everyone, and thanks for all your suggestions and support for the big day, in which I am honored to cook for my niece's new guy.
Now, I better get to cookin'! They will be here in less than 8 hours and I have ALL this nervous energy pent up like a race horse on track day, LOL.