Friday, November 10, 2017

Gradma Brown's Saucepan Beans

I am a big Grandma Brown's fan. Grandma Brown's beans (out of Mexico, NY) are a fixture on the shelves of local grocers. The iconic yellow/brown can is as unchanging as the hills and is one of the things I count on in life. I've written many times about Grandma Brown's and my 2010 post on the Home Baked Beans is consistently one of my most trafficked post.

Grandma Brown's products loom large in the collective memory of New York folk. Many were raised delighting in Grandma Brown's bean sandwiches at the Great New York State Fair. These beans were a fixture at any summer wienie roast. In fact, I was at a halloween party a couple of weeks ago and someone brought along a casserole of bacon swathed beans. "Did you make them yourself?"... "Nah, Grandma Brown's. I just put the bacon on..."

Not so long ago I was studying the beautiful label of a can of Home Baked Beans when it occurred to me that I had never sampled a couple of Grandma's offerings.

The home baked beans are absolutely ubiquitous around here. You are very likely to find whole shelves of the 3 can sizes (including my favorite, the mega-can) at any given grocer which is pretty wonderful. The Bean Soup (you can make next level bean dip out of this stuff) is a little rarer, but you'll stumble upon it once in a while.

The Saucepan Beans and the Split Pea Soup? Rarer than hen's teeth. I've never seen them on a shelf in Albany County. I decided to track down the Saucepan Beans first. Found them for 6 bucks on Amazon which is a bit dear for a can of beans... But insatiable curiosity is a cross I will always bear.

Notice I actually own the red enamel Dansk casserole dish that is featured in the Home Baked Beans label. Yes, I am that much of a bean-nerd.

Anyhow, I was delighted to get my hands on the Saucepan Beans. I began by inspecting the ingredients as compared to the baked beans.

Here we have Saucepan.

And here we have Home Baked.

A scant couple of differences. In the Saucepans -- no baking soda and the addition of ketchup and corn starch.

Here is the can cracked open.

Notice the overall looser consistency of the Saucepan beans. The Home Baked are fairly gelatinous. I'm fairly certain if you were careful, and shimmied the can just right, you could slop out the contents of the Home Baked uber-can and it would maintain the shape of the can and stand upright. A beautiful monolith of cold beans... The Saucepan Beans poured easily from the can into my, ahem, saucepan (a pretty little Descoware pan. I love Descoware).

The beans have a red hew and are liberally flecked with bacon chunks.

You can smell the tomato tang of the ketchup and just a whiff of smoke from the bacon.

Heated through they are wonderful. Need a bit of salt, but wonderful. So simple. Perfectly tender navy beans cooked down with water, ketchup, and bacon. Just a bit of brown sugar for sweetness. All Grandma Brown's products have a minimalist "wholesome" quality that you just don't see in the modern marketplace in this day and age.

The Saucepan beans aren't the beans of the summer picnic, Home Baked have that market locked. These are the beans of the campfire, beans of the just home from work and no time to cook. They are fine on their own and need no adulteration. God bless these beans.

I love Grandma Brown. I love Mexico, NY. I love Saucepan Beans. Split Pea Soup, you are next...
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