Tag Archives: baked beans

BBQ Chronicles: Dreamland BBQ–Birmingham, AL

Our trip back from Virginia is nearing its completion, so we had to celebrate with a second round of BBQ today. As we passed through Birmingham, AL, we decided to stop at Dreamland BBQ.

I have heard many good things about Dreamland. I actually visited the Mobile, AL location a few months ago. The ribs were tough last time, so I thought I needed to try a different location at a different time.

That pit is enormous.
That pit is enormous.

We started with BBQ nachos with pulled pork. Those alone are worth a visit. The nachos are loaded with meat and jalapeños and are sure to please. I also have to state that I love the sauce. It is tangy and spicy and is the perfect complement to any meat. It is served with white bread. If you are given white bread for dipping, you can feel confident that the sauce will enhance the meat.

That's a lot of ribs.  I like how the sauce is haphazardly slathered on top.
That’s a lot of ribs. I like how the sauce is haphazardly slathered on top.

Now for the ribs. They are hickory smoked. That is notable for two reasons. First, the hickory imparts a very unique taste to the ribs. These spare ribs had incredible flavor. However, hickory burns hot and can leave ribs tough, just like the first time I ate them. I want the meat to release from the bone with a little effort. I don’t want to fight the ribs which is what happens when you consume tough, leathery ribs. I like the flavor, but tough ribs are bad news. If you want tender ribs, just go to Tyler, TX.

Extreme closeup.  These ribs may be tough, but they really taste great with that hickory flavor.
Extreme closeup. These ribs may be tough, but they really taste great with that hickory flavor.

As for the sides, they were nothing special. Typical baked beans and potato salad. Probably Sysco brand and they aren’t even punched up. You can punch up a can of beans and make them phenomenal. Or you can heat and serve. These happen to be heat and serve beans.  If you want to be dazzled by beans, you may want to visit The Cotton Boll Grill.

Conclusion: BBQ nachos are required eating. Don’t waste your time on sides. The sauce is excellent. The hickory smoke is great. Stick with pulled pork or chicken. The leathery ribs get a ding for toughness. This establishment is worth your time as it scores three stars out of five.

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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.