Some Serious Baked Beans

I may be a slow learner, but this is the third time I made baked beans this week. The first batch was amazing, but I wasn’t following the recipe closely. Last night’s were a bummer, but today’s batch of beans will be a triumph.

One of my favorite treats happens to be baked beans. Most of the time I’ll punch up a can of Bush’s, but I have made baked kidney beans a couple of times.

I know, it sounds awkward like the time my dad tried to tell me about…well, you know…the birds and the bees? I was fourteen and I think he actually talked about birds and bees.

He certainly didn’t teach me anything I haven’t heard in school. The kidney beans are more enjoyable than that distant memory, but they have nothing on the traditional navy beans.

Baked pinto beans are another story, though. I always have pinto beans on hand and the skin is a little tougher than the navy beans, but their subtle flavor and creamy texture allow the mingling of sugars and pig fats to take center stage.

This recipe is similar to a recipe I found on Food Network, but I think the small alterations I made are quite enjoyable.

Ingredients

3 cups pinto beans, sorted and soaked overnight
1 onion, chopped
2 slices salt pork, chopped
2 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 link smoked sausage, quartered and chopped (andouille works nicely)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning
1 teaspoon Hatch chili powder
1 teaspoon Gebhardt chili powder
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon chicken base
3 Mezzetta peperoncini peppers

Method

Sauté meat in a cast iron Dutch oven to render the delicious fat.

Add onions and garlic. Sauté until onions are translucent. Season with black pepper and Tony Chachere’s.

Add both chili powders, tomato paste, brown sugar, molasses, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, yellow mustard, chicken base, and peperoncini peppers.

Add beans and four cups of water to combine.

Bring mixture to a boil, then cover and simmer on the stove for about 90 minutes. Stir occasionally and add water as needed.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Remove the lid and place in oven for the last hour of cooking so it thickens up as only baked beans can do.

Salt to taste and enjoy by itself or maybe with some nice greens.

I dunno if you can call them baked beans with only an hour in the oven, but last night I baked them for five hours and they tasted sad and unfulfilled. Today’s beans were delicious.

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