Monday, December 16, 2013

bbq baked beans

When Ed and I met, he had a can of baked beans in the cabinet and it kind of hung out in there for years... until one day it disappeared. Or at least, I didn't notice it had vanished. Like, one day, it got tired of waiting to be eaten, so it got up and left. Ed didn't eat it. I definitely didn't eat it, and unless the dogs figured out how to use a can opener, they didn't eat it either. Maybe it went into a bag for food donation, maybe Ed ate it one night coming back from the bar, maybe it got lost in a move somewhere, but that was one mysterious can of beans.
So, since we don't have that go-to can of beans in the cabinet anymore, I went for broke and made my own. Turns out, it's pretty easy. And pretty darn delish! How can anything that starts with bacon be bad? I mean, really? These are whatcha call "bacon ends". It's the not-so-pretty portion of bacon slicing that most grocery stores don't have. The butcher we go to now, however, has lots of bacon ends for sale, and it's SUPER cheap. And, it's perfect for dishes like this; bacon used for seasoning.
The bacon shouldn't be crispy. You just want to render the fat and make the bacon soft and squishy. Set the bacon aside, because we aren't done with it yet!
To all that bacon fat you rendered, you'll add in the onions and bell pepper and the garlic. This will become amazing and delicious because it's cookin' in the bacon fat.
While the veggies are cooking away, it's a good time to mix up the liquids. This particular bean recipe is BBQ baked beans, so it's gotta have barbecue- of course. You can make your own, but I just used a hickory barbecue sauce and it was just fine. To that is some Worcestershire sauce, some molasses, apple cider vinegar, mustard powder, salt, pepper and chicken stock. That's it! Whisk it up!
Now, it's time for the beans! These are baked beans, after all. This is two cans worth of drained pinto beans. I know some people like using pork and beans, but I like my beans to be undoctored. HOWEVER, I have no patience for soaking, rinsing and boiling beans. No ma'am. Mix this up with the sauce we made a minute ago then transfer into an oven safe dish with a lid.
 Make sure you sprayed the bottom of the pan (or pot in this case) with some non-stick cooking spray. Or, you will be sorry. I was.
Remember that bacon from earlier? How you could you forget? It's going right on top. Top your pot with the lid, and pop this in the oven to bake for AT LEAST an hour. Not because the beans need it, but because the sauce will get better, and better, and better. I cooked mine for 2 hours. I wouldn't cook for much longer than that, though, you don't want the sauce to reduce too much. You'll never use can beans again!
BBQ Baked Beans
2 can pinto beans, drained
1/4 lb bacon ends, or 8 strips of bacon
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 Tablespoons molasses
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a cast iron skillet or saute pan, cook bacon until soft and have rendered about 1/4 cup of fat. Remove from pan and set aside. To the bacon fat, add the diced onion, peppers and minced garlic. Cook vegetables in the bacon fat until softened and slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together barbecue sauce, chicken stock, molasses, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard  powder, black pepper and salt. Add drained beans to vegetables in the pan, and stir in sauce. Transfer to a baking dish with a lid. Top with cooked bacon and cover with lid. Bake in oven for at least 1 hour, up to 2 hours. Let sit for 5 minutes to thicken slightly before serving. Enjoy!