I’ve been meaning to do this one for a while, for two reasons. First and foremost, my sister Kathye asked me for a good recipe for baked beans. The second is to help all you Barbecue Hounds out there. I’ve never understood how someone can slave over the perfect barbecue – be it brisket, ribs, pulled pork, whatever – only to open a couple of cans of store-bought beans to go along with it. That’s like putting retread tires on a Ferrari. Sure, you could do it, but why?
Really, the recipe doesn’t take a lot of time to prepare. Mostly, it’s just sitting in a slow cooker, simmering away and making your home smell incredibly good! The most important part of the prep is to make sure the beans are ready at about the same time as the barbecue. Do a little math and you’re all set.
I’ve been playing with this recipe for years, and I’ve finally got it where it’s perfect – for me, anyway. You may want to adjust a few things to suit your taste, but that’s OK with me! Making a recipe your own is one of the most fun things you can do in the kitchen… aside from having a food fight for no good reason and making love for all the right reasons! Wait! TMI. Sorry… Back to cooking. Let’s go have some fun!
1 pound dry navy beans or other white beans
12 slices thick-cut bacon
1 medium sweet onion, such as Vidalia
2 cloves garlic
1 cup water
1 cup black coffee
1 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce
1 cup loosely packed brown sugar, plus extra for onions (see below)
1/4 cup tomato paste or ketchup
2 tablespoons molasses
1 cup bourbon
1 1/2 tablespoons ground mustard
Big pinch of cumin
Big pinch of paprika (smoked, if you have it)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Sliced or chopped jalapenos
Soak beans in large pot of water overnight (for twelve hours).
Drain beans and return to pot with more water. Bring beans to a boil, the simmer for 45 minutes.
While beans or simmering, get everything else ready to go.
Reduce heat to medium-low, and add finely chopped onion to pan. Cook for about 5 minutes, until soft and beginning to caramelize. Sprinkle a tablespoon or two of brown sugar over onions and cook another 3-4 minutes, until soft and well-caramelized.
Crush and mince garlic cloves, then add to onion. Cook for one minute more.
Remove onions from heat and transfer to slow cooker. Get all the bacon fat out of the pan, because that stuff is all about flavor!
Add everything else to the slow cooker, except the beans, salt and pepper. Stir it all up and let everything get to know everything else and get happy.
When they’re done simmering, drain the beans and add to slow cooker.
Turn cooker on HIGH for one hour. Then, reduce heat to LOW and cook for another ten to twelve hours.
Right about the time you turn the heat from HIGH to LOW, taste your sauce, adding salt and pepper to taste. Don’t adjust any other seasonings yet. Instead, let the beans cook for at least six hours before adjusting your spices. This is so everything gets really, really happy before you go making changes. Remember to go easy on adding spices. You can always add more later, but once they’re in the pot, you’re not getting them back out.
At least a half hour before serving, turn the slow cooker OFF. I usually do this about an hour before serving, and the beans are still more than hot enough to serve. The reason for this step is to let the sauce thicken.
Just before serving, taste and add a bit more salt, if needed.
Navy beans are the most common variety used in recipes of this type. But you can also use Great Northern or other white beans. You can even use pinto beans for a more Southwestern version. My Texas family does this a lot!
Use a good bourbon, not some cheap stuff. Better bourbon means better sauce! The same goes for barbecue sauce. Use your favorite or make your own. I normally use Sweet Baby Ray’s Sweet & Spicy Sauce but that’s just me!
I get my best results from doing the beans the day before the barbecue. When they’re done cooking, I just turn the slow cooker off and remove the insert, placing it on hot pads to cool enough to put in the fridge. On barbecue day, I’ll reheat them on HIGH until they bubble, then turn to WARM until about an hour before serving. Again, turn the slow cooker off so the sauce is as thick as possible.
I know, it seems complicated, but it really isn’t. As I said, mostly you’re just enjoying the smell of a killer recipe and wishing the barbecue was done! The next time you grill or barbecue, step it up a notch with some great, home made beans! And, as always, remember to
Play with your food!
I have more side dishes here.
Did you like this recipe? What recipes would you like to learn? Leave me a comment and tell me your thoughts! (And don’t forget to LIKE this post!) Share it using the tiles below.