Foodiggity is proud to present our first guest post and newest contributor to the site. This episode of our recipe series ‘Power to the People‘ is brought to you by Ray Howell, a fellow food culture devotee and imbiber of the foodiggity Kool-Aid. Enjoy.
It is a strange and exciting time of year. The window that deems white shoes fashionably acceptable is slowly closing, and it is (in some jurisdictions) still a culinary imperative to barbecue.
Grilling, the direct application of radiant heat to food, is perhaps the oldest cooking method. We embrace the primal combination of meat and fire. We honor the simple elegance of its alchemy. When we approach the grill, we hark back to a time when men were men — albeit covered in a rough fur — and women were dragged around by their hair. We also brandished clubs and had pet dinosaurs. Maybe.
Putting aside questions of the archeological record and gender equality, we can agree that grilling is Good. True barbecue, however, is something more than a common cooking method.
Rather, barbecue is that thing achieved with the confluence of smoky meat, cold potato salad, tangy collard greens and the spicy-sweetness of BBQ beans. It is an experience that depends upon its supporting players.
Because barbecue is perhaps defined by its side dishes, don’t pay them short shrift. This recipe for The Best BBQ Beans Ever has few ingredients, but takes patience and a little practice.
Like all episodes of Power to the People, it requires tasting and correction to balance flavors. But it’s worth it. And anything less just isn’t barbecue.
The Best BBQ Beans Ever
1 pound bacon, chopped
2 medium yellow onions, diced small
2 bell peppers (red and green), diced small
Chipotles in adobo
6 cans (15 oz) beans (a mix of pink, red, black, white, etc.)
Light brown sugar
- Chop the bacon into tiny pieces and render over medium heat in a Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed pot. Foodiggity.com disavows the outcome of this recipe if you choose to omit the bacon in deference to vegetarian guests.
- When the bacon has taken on some color but is not too crispy, add the diced onion and peppers. Saute in the bacon fat, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft.
- Finely chop 3-5 chipotle peppers until almost a paste, and add to the pot. Then add the beans.
- At this time, you must decide how wet and saucy you like your beans. Begin adding your ketchup, a cup or two at a time. Add somewhere between a few tablespoons and a 1/2 cup of Dijon mustard. Splash in a couple tablespoons of cider vinegar, a tablespoon or two of molasses, and a little brown sugar.
- Season with salt. Stir. Simmer. Taste. Correct. Repeat.
There are many factors in play at this point, not the least of which is your personal taste. Do you want your beans spicier? Add chipotle. Sweeter? A lump of brown sugar. Less sweet and more piquant? Grab the vinegar bottle.
Trust your palate, Luke. Reach out with your tasting spoon. Add more ketchup if it begins to get dry.
Simmer for at least an hour, maybe more. Serve. Accept compliments with grace and humility.
*This recipe for ketchup works well. Along with the large quantity of bacon, it is the ketchup that elevates these beans from “good” to “the best ever”.
Homemade ketchup is a revelation. It is a nuanced sauce for adults, not a high-fructose corn syrup-laden condiment. If you still use the term ‘catsup‘, then we can’t help you and you’re unworthy of our beans.
Ray is a writer and corporate communications professional based in New York City. A graduate of the University of Michigan and The Institute of Culinary Education, Ray has more that 30 years of experience eating food and watching TV. You can follow him on Twitter at @fiftykeels.