My boys have been eating this since they were in diapers and it’s still a family favorite. We always serve it over cooked rice. Start the rice before you fry the ground beef and the rice will done about the same time as the Beef & Beans. When the boys were little, and their sisters were big, they would argue at the dinner table over whether this dish was called cowboy beans or cowgirl beans. We finally settled the argument by calling it cow-poke beans. I would always tell my kids the story of how cowboys, after riding the herd all the day, would stop and cook this dish over an open fire while they sang cowboy songs and told tall tales. Then we would try to tell our own tall tale while eating supper. Distracting children who are on the autism spectrum is an on-going task, so I was happy to hit upon this idea.
Now my girls are grown and live near their other mother’s family in the Midwest. My boys are nearly grown and still live at home. Sadly there are never arguments over the name of this dish, or calls for me to tell cowboy stories or tall tales at the dinner table any longer. Even with everyone all grown up, the guys still smile when they see this homespun meal on the table. I think it holds fond memories for them too.
By the way, I still call it Cowgirl Beans because I cook it and I’m a girl. If you’re serving boys feel free to call it cowboy beans, or if you have a mixed bunch, cow-poke beans works too.
Cowgirl Beef & Bean Skillet
- 1 pound regular ground beef or ground turkey
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper OR red pepper flakes
- 28 ounce can baked beans
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon brown mustard OR yellow mustard
Get out a very large skillet or even a pot. Fry the ground meat over medium-high heat, breaking it up into smaller bits as it cooks. Drain off the fat. If desired, pour your meat into a strainer and rinse it under hot water. Drain well and return to the skillet. Add the onions, salt, black pepper and red pepper. If the skillet seems dry, then add a couple of tablespoons of water too. Fry the onions and meat for about 5-minutes, or until the onion is somewhat tender. Add the baked beans, ketchup and mustard. Swirl a little water into the baked bean can to get anything clinging to the sides of the can. Dump this into the skillet too.
Stir the beef and beans together. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes or until hot. Serve over rice. Offer corn on the cob or regular corn, and broccoli on the side. Potato salad is good with this too. Makes 6 servings.