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I use a 5 qt Dutch oven and cook on the stove. Bacon is optional but it adds great flavor (and extra calories, unfortunately).
This is an old old recipe that is perfect for pot luck meals. Easy to prepare and delicious. At a recent potluck a man came up to me and said your calico beans were the best dish on the entire table.
I've been making this recipe for years and it is always a family favorite and function favorite. I'm always asked for the recipe. I like more beans and love varieties so don't feel limited to just three cans of beans. I've always made this in a crockpot which makes it even easier. Brown the beef and onion, add to the crock pot and then the rest of the ingredients. Cook on low all day or on high for 4 hours. If made a day in advance, and the rewarmed in the crock pot, the flavors are enhanced. I freeze the leftovers in a plastic freezer bags by serving amounts and always have a side dish on hand in a pinch.
MY NEIGHBOR MADE THIS FOR OUR FRIENDLY NEIGHBERHOOD BARBACUE THEY WERE DELICIOUS.