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BBQ beans in bulk: An easy crowd pleaser


(CBS News) So, I'm a journalism major who likes to cook. Doesn't quite scream math enthusiast, does it? Nope...

It hasn't really been an issue for me either with the college and career choices I've made for myself. In fact, I've pretty much avoided math whenever possible.

Except for culinary school.

Video: BBQ beans: An easy dish to make in bulk

"Chef math," which I've come to call it, isn't exactly brain surgery...I mean, I can do it, I just don't care for it.

Especially with long, never ending recipes. How much everything weighs and costs when you buy it, after you break it down, when it's on your plate...just doesn't interest me.

Then again, I'm not planning to open my own restaurant anytime in the foreseeable future.

What I have found useful, however, is one simple equation that makes increasing and decreasing recipes super easy, which is vital since we've been cooking in mass quantities lately.

Luckily, everything you need is right in the recipe, and with two simple equations, you'll be good to go.

In the video above, I demonstrate a quick and satisfying recipe that's great to make in bulk. Then, read below for the recipe and to learn how I bulked up all the ingredients.

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BBQ Baked Beans
Adapted from The International Culinary Center
Yield: 30 servings

  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 lb bacon, optional
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 lbs dried white beans
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 1 head garlic, diced
  • 1/4 cup ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup onion powder
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • Water, to cover
  • 1 quart BBQ sauce
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Heat canola oil in pot over medium heat. If using bacon, add bacon and cook until crispy. If not, add butter with oil.

2. When oil is hot, add beans and toss. Cook for a few minutes until beans are toasted.

3. Add onions, saute until transparent, about 5 minutes.

4. Add garlic, saute 3 minutes. Add spices, mix and cook 2 minutes.

5. Add water to cover. As a general rule, cover dried beans with 1.5 to 2 inches of water. Add tomato sauce. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer and cook 1.5 to 2 hours, or until beans are tender.

6. Add BBQ sauce, hot sauce and salt and pepper to taste.

Now, say you only have 4 people to serve BBQ beans to, not 30. Here's how to decrease the recipe:

Desired Yield: 4
Original yield: 30

Divide the desired by the original to get your conversion factor (the number you multiply all your ingredients by): 4/30 = .133

So, here is the recipe after .133 is multiplied every ingredient:

BBQ Baked Beans
Yield: 4 servings

  • 4 1/4 tablespoons canola oil (2.128 ounces)
  • 1 slice bacon, diced (.79 ounces)
  • 1/4 stick butter (1.064 tablespoons)
  • 6.38 ounces dried white beans
  • 1/4 onion, diced (.226 of an onion)
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves, diced (.018 head garlic)
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin (.53 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder (.53 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce (.266 cups)
  • Water, to cover
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce (.532 cups)
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

To increase a recipe, you would use the same equation. All you need to do is find your conversion factor, and calculate away.