As I’ve gotten more and more into using my smoker to make BBQ, I started paying more attention to my side dishes. Among my favorites has always been baked beans.
Unfortunately, when I went looking on recipe sites for inspiration, I discovered that a startlingly high percentage of the baked bean recipes are little more than cracking open a can of Bush’s Baked Beans and doctoring them in one way or another with additions.
That’s fine, as far as it goes. However, I took it as a challenge to create my own recipe for baked beans from more “raw” ingredients.
The result has had several outings now and every time, these beans have been a big hit. While I don’t make them the same way every time, the basic pattern is definitely holding up and everyone at the outings I’ve brought them to says they like ‘em.
In the tradition of a lot of BBQ, I figured if I was going to make my own, they should have beer and whiskey in them. That results in some really interesting and complex flavors that I really like.
The prep time is pretty quick, but then they sit in a crock pot for 24 hours. That sounds like a long time, but it’s really the last 12 of those hours when they really transform into what you’re after.
Anyway, here’s the recipe. Any improvements and suggestions are welcome. This is for the large oval crock pot pictured above. If you only have one of the smaller, round crock pot/slow cookers, you’ll need to cut the recipe in half.
J’s Drunken Baked Beans
1/4 pound of bacon or salt pork
1 lb pork sausage
1 lb of diced onions
3T of diced garlic
2 lbs of dried great northern beans
1 29 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
2 cups of brown sugar (going to raise this to 2.5 cups next time)
4 cans of beer
2 shots of whiskey
- Dice and brown the bacon or salt pork and add it to the crock.
- Brown the pork sausage and add it to the crock.
- In the pork fat, sauté the onions and garlic and add them to the crock.
- Add all but the beer and whiskey to the crock.
- Add the whiskey.
- Fill the crock with beer.
- Put it on low for 24 hours.
- Make sure that the beans stay covered in liquid or you’ll get a layer of crunchy beans on top.
That’s the general idea. From there, I usually do something different and play with it a little bit. Last weekend, when I made them, instead of the pork sausage, I used smoked pulled pork that I had in the freezer. I’ve made them with several different varieties of beer, but use Guinness most often (also works really well in beef stew). Same for the whiskey. I usually use an Irish whiskey, but have used bourbon instead and, while they taste slightly different, they all come out good.