Wieners and beans, any way you like them

wieners and beans simmering

Wieners and beans simmering on our harvest-gold stove at the Manse. What could be better?

Raymond and I grew up a few years and many miles apart, he in a Franco-American Roman Catholic family in Lowell, Mass., and me here at the very Protestant Manse in Queensborough, Ont. But in many ways his family and mine were (and are) not all that different. For one (very important) thing, there are immensely strong bonds within the family, and huge joy when the siblings and their offspring (and their sisters and their cousins and their aunts – though there are a lot more of all of those among the Roman Catholic Brassards than among the Protestant Sedgwicks) get together.

And for another: wieners and beans.

Probably due in large part to the fact that a third thing the two families had in common was that there was never very much money when we were growing up, wieners and beans were a staple on the lunch and sometimes supper table in both the Brassard household of Raymond’s youth and the Sedgwick household – the Manse – of mine. So recently Raymond and I decided to revisit that delicious favourite of our past.

slicing the wieners into the beans

The Sedgwick Method: Slicing up the cold wieners to heat with the beans.

And guess what we discovered? That there are variations on the wieners-and-beans theme!

In the Sedgwick household the wieners were cut up into bite-size pieces while cold and warmed up directly in, and with, the beans. The Brassards, by contrast, put the wieners in boiling water first and then cut them up and added them to the beans. Such culinary complexity!

But anyway, Raymond and I tried it both ways. And both ways were as good as in our childhood.

Boiled wieners and beans

The Brassard Method: Heating the beans and wieners separately, before mixing.

Another difference was that the Sedgwicks used canned grocery-store beans – Libby’s Deep-Browned was the preferred kind, as I recall, a brand long gone in Canada – while the Brassards often bought a locally made brand called Rochette’s, which were sold already warm (in big pots) at a shop called Martin’s Variety, where one could (and still can today) ladle out the desired amount into a plastic container and take them home ready to eat. (Rochette’s Beans are very much a Lowell specialty – and this in a region where they take their beans seriously, Lowell being close to the home of Boston Baked Beans. I confess I am not totally crazy about them, because they are not deep-browned like Libby’s were. Which translates into: they are not as sweet.)

But wait! There is one more variation on wieners and beans, and this one is wild because – it doesn’t involve wieners! It turns out that Raymond’s dad (also named Raymond) preferred hamburger to wieners when it came to what to mix with the beans. So in our comprehensive sampling of the bean-themed dishes of our youth, Raymond and I also had that – a first for me, but quite good.

Hamburger and beans

Hamburger and beans: it was new to me, but I quite liked it.

Not as good as wieners and Libby’s Deep-Browned, mind you. But as an excellent way to feed a large, hungry family at very little cost? Right up there.

20 thoughts on “Wieners and beans, any way you like them

  1. Oh, wieners and beans … I wish I hadn’t seen this. I love that dish. How can something so simple be so satisfying? I don’t think I know anybody who does not like this. Sometimes I jazz it up just a titch by adding a bit of dry mustard and brown sugar — not much, though. But, they are always so good, so easy to prepare, and so inexpensive. The hamburger & beans looks good, too; one that I’ll have to try sometime. Thanks for sharing that idea!

    • Now when you talk about adding dry mustard and brown sugar, Sash, you may be veering into the territory held by the folks who make the made-from-scratch baked beans served at the church suppers at St. Andrew’s United in Queensborough. And I am very happy to report that the St. Andrew’s ham supper, featuring those awesome baked beans, will be on Wednesday, April 9, this year. Spread the word!

      • Oh, I’m sure the church supper will be a huge hit … ham, baked beans and all sorts of wonderful casseroles made by the local women … what’s not to like? It sounds out of this world. Just too bad I’m trying to stick so close to my diet; I’m afraid beans & wieners and such are off the list, for now (just when they would taste so good, too.) But, I will look forward to your report in April!

      • Aw c’mon, one church supper won’t hurt your diet, I promise! St. Andrew’s is the place to be on April 9! (But you can be sure I will be filing a full and complete report. From the front lines, because I will be working at the supper!)

      • Yeah, right. I’m still paying for my sins of Christmas, what with fruitcake, steamed pudding & sauce, shortbread, fruitcake, mincemeat, etc. Oh, did I mention fruitcake? Anyway, baked beans are not on the menu right now (unless they look like the green beans in the produce section). I’m sure the ham supper will be a huge hit. Have they ever had a supper like this where the demand exceeded the supply? Undoubtedly, people will be arriving very early, just to be sure of getting a place at the table. Can’t wait for your report!

      • I have never heard of a situation where the food ran out before the people did at a St. Andrew’s church supper, Sash – the church women who run it seem to have the magical ability to gauge ahead of time how much will be needed. Just one of their many talents!

  2. Hamburger and beans……… always one of my favourites. You might enjoy it even more by adding chopped onions, jalepeno and red/green peppers to taste. Think of making your meat sauce but add more hamburger and leave out the tomato sauce/paste.

  3. Oh, how odd that you should post about beans and weiners just at this time! I was chatting with a man at the deli counter in the Madoc Foodland on Saturday afternoon, where he was buying a few slices of bologna (or, as my mother would have said, baloney); he’d had a sudden craving for some fried bologna. That brought back memories because I hadn’t eaten it for about 30 years, when it was the basis of a gourmet meal in my kids’ opinion. And then we chatted about beans and weiners, another one of my single-parent specialties back in the 80s (my boys thought I was a kitchen goddess). And here you and Raymond are with your variations on a theme.

  4. Beanie Weenies! I confess I haven’t had any since my daughter was young – in fact she may actually have made the last iteration at my house. But I did discover at one point that I by far preferred the molasses kind of beans over the tomato ones; this sounds to me like your preference for the deep-browned kind. Beanie Hamburger (doesn’t have the same resonance, somehow) sounds interesting…though I can’t see it having the same feel to it, mainly because of the childhood thing. Anyway, bon apétit…whatever other cherished oldies you resurrect!

  5. Yeah, but the key is serving it on toast with a bit of butter on it. The butter is essential. I was so disappointed when my kids turned their noses up at it, but it think it’s time to try again.

  6. Love reading your posts, Katherine. I can’t believe I’m reading about “bologney” right now. I just bought some this week because I had been craving a fried bologna sandwich. I did remember to cut the edges. 🙂 I can’t remember the last time I had one of these delicious sandwiches. It tasted just as good as it did 30 years ago. I have to try Uncle Ray’s hamburg and beans. It looks so good. I have beans at our 4th of July cookout every year and people think I made them from scratch. I us Busch Beans and add diced onion and Sweet Baby Ray’s barbeque sauce and they all think they’re homemade. Shhhh… 😉

    • That is a great cooking tip for beans, Natalie – thank you! (And your secret is safe with me. And the readers.) Meanwhile, how funny that just this week you revisited the bologney sandwiches of your youth. I am starting to think I will have to do the same!

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