Seriously. "Southern-Style Barbecue Green Beans with Bacon." Doesn't that sound like an appropriate side dish for the Fourth of July weekend? My fiance decided that he wanted to have some of his friends from his nursing program over for a barbecue, so I volunteered to make a side dish. I thought that I might give baked beans in the crock pot another try, but ultimately decided that green beans + bacon, cooked in barbecue sauce sounded like a good dish to feed nursing students.
This was from the Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook, which is quickly becoming one of my favorites (though thanks to bridal shower gifts and such, I now have Italian and Indian slow cooker cookbooks to try... also: how excited am I about this French slow cooker cookbook, due to be released in January 2012). Since I was planning to go into school to the gym and to work at the library on the day of my fiance's barbecue, we were smart and prepped some of the ingredients the night before. This recipe is actually set perfectly for a grad student: there's only four steps and if you prep it the night before, and thus eliminate one of the steps, all you have to do the day of is throw everything together in the crock pot.
As you can see from the images, the first step is to cook the bacon and then cook a chopped onion in the remnants of bacon grease. The step that we skipped is actually the one in between those: "Grease the inside of the slow cooker with some of the bacon drippings." I thought that it wouldn't be sanitary to leave the grease out in the slow cooker overnight and it wouldn't be smart to refrigerate the slow cooker insert itself, so I decided that since the bacon was going in and we cooked the onion in bacon grease, that would be sufficient. I also washed all the green beans and snapped off the ends the night before, to make my life easier in the morning.
So, all I had to do when I got up in the morning was to throw the green beans and the onion/bacon mixture (I stored those in the same Tupperware container) and cover it all with barbecue sauce. In terms of timing, this one is pretty good for an all-day, out-of-the-house cooking, though I think the beans might have been better if they hadn't cooked for as long as they did. The recipe says to cook them on low for six to seven hours and I found the beans to be a little too limp in the end.
This is what the beans looked like after they were done cooking.
And this is what they looked like after I stirred them... much better, no?
Now, I couldn't even begin to tell you how many servings we got out of this because people just were helping themselves at the barbecue. I made a double recipe, but a single recipe says that it serves four to six. So, for the sake of this, let's assume that I got twelve servings total, though I'm sure we got more than that. So, in terms of cost, I'd estimate this dish to be anywhere from $1.05-$1.25 per serving according to the number of servings estimated by the cookbook. The range, of course, depends on how cheap certain things are, especially the bacon and the barbecue sauce. In terms of calories, the big ticket item here is actually the barbecue sauce, making the per serving calorie count about 128. In reality, it's probably less than that because (a) you don't eat all the barbecue sauce, just the stuff that sticks to the beans and (b) we probably ate smaller servings that the estimated.
So, how was this recipe? Not bad. My fiance's assessment is probably what I'm going with: this dish is more barbecue sauce than green beans in terms of taste. I think that if I ever make it again, I may try diluting the barbecue sauce with some water, going half barbecue sauce and half just water, which may make the taste of the beans stand out a bit more. I think I'd also probably cook it for less time, so the beans would be crisper and taste more fresh.