BBQ Baked Beans

BBQ Baked Beans, hot and spicy!

BBQ Baked Beans, hot and spicy!

It’s summertime: prime-time for cookouts, as well as picnics and potlucks. I’m kicking off the summer with a series of cookout-related posts. (Other bloggers may be doing other things, that’s part of the beauty of group blogs. Never a dull moment.) This recipe will put some zing in your next cookout. It was inspired by a recipe I saw some years ago, which I have changed so completely that it no longer resembles the original. To give you some idea how radically this has evolved: it was originally a very complicated meat main dish with exotic (and not very appetizing-sounding) ingredients. I’d made beans lots of times before, but never quite “BBQ baked beans” and as put off as I was when skimming the odd recipe, I thought that there were bits in there I could use to improve my rather lame attempts at “baked beans”. Many years and a gazillion changes later…I came up with this new totally vegetarian version. 🙂

Here’s something for you to think about when you’re adapting a recipe that calls for bacon “for flavor”: what really adds the flavor (to my way of thinking) isn’t the bacon, but the hickory smoke (or apple or mesquite, or whatever the current trendy tree is). The smoke lends a savoriness to whatever it’s added to. A little bit of liquid smoke can do the trick, depending on what the recipe is.  🙂 For something like this, which is associated so much with cookouts, liquid smoke is a nice touch. (Colgin liquid smoke comes in a number of different flavors: hickory, mesquite, apple, pecan.)

This is very spicy. If you want a milder version, use one jalapeno instead of two. I really wouldn’t recommend eliminating it altogether because the pepper — and the spiciness of it — is an essential feature of the dish. It’s supposed to be spicier than regular baked beans. 🙂

1 16oz pkg dried pinto beans (2 1/4 cups)
2 Tbls olive oil
2 med onions, chopped
2 jalapenos, minced
2 cloves garlic, pressed (or diced)
1 cup ketchup
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
2 Tbls spicy brown mustard
1 1/2 tsp (or to taste) liquid smoke (I’m partial to mesquite, but have also used hickory.)

If you are taking this dish to a BBQ or potluck, you may want to double the recipe and use a disposable aluminum pan. I’ve found that the deep aluminum roasting pans work well, and are more or less necessary if you double the recipe (a good idea if you’re going to be feeding a crowd).

There’s different “timings” for making this. Some of the preparation needs to be done ahead of time, but how much prep you do the day ahead and how much on the day of serving is up to you. You can soak the beans the day before or the night before. Or you can soak them two days before, make the dish the day before and reheat it. Choose the timing that fits your schedule.

The day before you plan on serving the beans, soak the beans either all day or all night, covered in 3 times their volume of water. If you soak the beans during the day, in the evening drain the beans, add fresh water and cook for 45 minutes. Cool, then refrigerate overnight. If you soak the beans overnight, then drain the beans, add fresh water and cook for 45 minutes the next day and continue on with making them.

Preheat oven 350.

If you’re starting with cold beans cooked the night before, bring the beans and liquid slowly to a simmer while chopping the veggies. Otherwise, chop the veggies while the beans are cooking.

In a large saucepan, saute the onions in olive oil, then add jalapenos and garlic. Stir in the ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, 1 1/2 tsp Liquid Smoke (or to taste), along with some of the bean cooking liquid (about 1/2 cup).

Simmer sauce briefly, while transferring the beans with a slotted spoon to a 3 qt. casserole dish (or big disposable aluminum pan if you’ve doubled the recipe to take to a cookout). Pour sauce over beans. Stir well. Reserve the bean cooking water in case you need to add more liquid.

Put the casserole dish (or pan) in oven. Bake uncovered 45 minutes. If it looks like it’s cooking too dry, stir in a bit more of the reserved bean liquid. If it’s too moist, you can bake it longer.

I get regular requests to bring this to cookouts. It’s a sure-fire hit! 😀 Look for next Friday’s original cookout recipe: Frankenslaw!

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