Labor day for some signals the end of Summer and the beginning of Fall. I love grilling outdoors and this year I bought a pellet smoker which has been so much fun to smoke ribs, burnt ends and pulled pork. So now I thought it would be fun to focus on one of our favorite side dishes. . . barbecue baked beans. There’s a lot of flavors packed into these beans including bacon, onion and jalapeno along with some sweet molasses and brown sugar. They are not just for outdoor picnics or family barbecues alone. I made enough for a meal or two and plan to freeze the rest in smaller portions that we can have later. If you are celebrating with family or friends this coming Labor day weekend you might want to make a pot of delicious barbecue baked beans to serve alongside.
Start by prepping the beans, I used Navy beans but you could also use Great Northern beans. Sort the beans by tossing out any discolored or split beans. Cover beans with cold water to soak overnight. The next morning drain the beans but reserve 4 cups of the liquid.
Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat and add bacon bits. Stir the pot while the bacon cooks.
The bacon will begin to separate and render in its own fat.
When the bacon is crisp, remove the bits with a slotted spoon. Drain the bacon grease into a jar.
Add the chopped onions and jalapeno to the Dutch oven with just enough bacon grease to cook and soften them.
Time to add the tomato paste, brown sugar and molasses.
Stir the pot. You will start to smell the aroma of all those flavors coming together.
Add the beans back to the pot and stir.
Use 4 cups of the reserved bean liquid and add chicken or vegetable bouillon to make a broth. Add the broth to the Dutch oven and stir the pot.
Give it a little spice with cayenne, salt and pepper.
Bring the beans to a boil. At this point you can finish cooking the beans either of 2 ways. Place the lid on the Dutch oven and either cook on top of the stove simmering low or place in the oven at 250 degrees. Either way it will take approximately 8 – 10 hours. Stir the pot every hour or so.
When you are about 8 hours in, add the crispy bacon bits. I like to add them last so they don’t soften over the 8 hours of cook time. They tend to hold their texture and flavor when added late.
10 hours in and we are finally there. It smells amazing right now!
Serve warm or cold.
Barbecue Baked Beans (adapted from Alton Brown’s Baked Beans)
1 pound dried Navy Beans
Water, to cover beans
1/2 pound Bacon, chopped into small bits
1/2 Onion, chopped
1 Jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup Tomato Paste
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Molasses
4 cups Chicken Broth or Vegetable broth
(I used 4 cups of reserved bean liquid mixed with Better than Bouillon)
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
Sort the beans, discarding any discolored or split beans. Place beans in a large bowl and cover with enough water to submerge them completely. Let soak overnight.
Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add bacon bits and stir as the bacon heats up. Cook several minutes as the bacons renders it’s fat and the bacon begins to crisp. When crisp, remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a bowl lined with paper towels. Drain the bacon grease to a jar reserving 1 – 2 tablespoons.
Add the chopped onion and jalapeno to the Dutch oven with 1 – 2 tablespoons of bacon grease. Saute until vegetables are soft and translucent. Stir in the tomato paste, brown sugar and molasses.
Drain the beans reserving 4 cups of the liquid. Add chicken or vegetable bouillon to make a broth. Add the beans to the Dutch oven, stirring so that the thick sauce coats the beans. Add the broth to the mix and stir. Add in the cayenne, salt and pepper. Stir the pot and bring to a boil.
You can cook the beans on top of the stove or in the oven. To cook on top of the stove, place a lid on the Dutch oven, turn the heat down to low, keep the beans at a low simmer. Cook 8 – 10 hours, stirring the pot every hour. At 8 hours in, add the bacon bits and stir to combine with the beans. Cook until beans are tender.
To bake in the oven, preheat oven to 250 degrees. Bake in Dutch oven 8 – 10 hours, stirring the pot every hour. At 8 hours in, add the bacon bits and stir to combine with the beans. Cook until beans are tender.
Makes 1 1/2 – 2 quarts of cooked beans. Beans can be frozen in smaller portions to be used in the future.