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Sweet, meaty or spicy, baked beans can be made to suit
Phil Beaubien, owner of The Hickory Pig BBQ, plates some of his baked beans cooking on a double boiler inside the kitchen of his tiny barbecue restaurant on Thompson Bridge Road Tuesday morning.

Straight from the can, or homemade, baked beans come in all flavors and tastes for all palates.

Adding a touch of barbecue sauce, brown sugar, sauteed onions, maple syrup - baked beans are all a matter of preference.

And like Phil Beaubien, owner of the Hickory Pig BBQ in Gainesville, said "it's just what your mama made" as to what everyone likes to add to a plain can of beans.

His baked beans are a very simple recipe, which is why they work so well for Beaubien at Hickory Pig.

"I start with pork and beans, 1 gallon of pork and beans," he said. "I take 3 pounds of hamburger and I cook it with hickory ... add a small handful of pulled pork and put some barbecue sauce in there and I have a little bit of spice I add in there."

The beans are then heated until hot in a double boiler.

"Mine taste real good," Beaubien said. "I think that's the way their mama did it, it's just whatever."

The baked bean recipe is perfect for any meat-loving Labor Day party this coming weekend and will make a enough for a crowd.

But not every one gets real fancy with smoked meats and Creole seasoning.

Nancy Sturtevant, a home cook in Gainesville, said she doesn't do anything special to her beans and adds different items from time to time.

"Sometimes I just start from the canned beans and sometimes I start with the dry beans, either way," she said. "I just probably do what most people do and add onions or peppers, nothing special. Sometimes brown sugar or sometimes I use a little bit of barbecue sauce to add a smoky taste."

Sturtevant said she will be heading out to Lake Lanier to celebrate Labor Day weekend, but Beaubien and the Hickory Pig will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday for baked bean and barbecue lovers.

Beaubien has owned Hickory Pig in North Hall County for 20 years and in July was chosen by the editors at Atlanta Magazine as the best barbecue in the Atlanta area.

Since Beaubien's recent fame, he hasn't changed a thing at the eatery and is eager to share his love of barbecue, baked beans and Brunswick Stew to anyone that stops in the Hickory Pig.

"The first week (after the article in Atlanta Magazine) we ran out of food on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.," he said. "Second week we ran out at 2:30 p.m., and the third week we sort of got it together. We are cooking more and organized better, but we won't change a thing."

Brenda Fitzpatrick, Beaubien's only employee and the famous banana pudding chef at Hickory Pig, said she loves the barbecue at the eatery and her favorite comfort food is made there in the winter.

"I like the pulled pork, too, in a sandwich," Fitzpatrick said. "When it gets real cold, you make corn bread and put Brunswick Stew over that."


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