Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Cowboy Beans

Cowboy Beans.  What can I say?


You know that I usually prefer to post quick recipes, that you can get together on a hectic day.  This is not quite one of those.  I mean, it can be made on a hectic day and be a great, comforting dinner to soothe your soul after the craziness, but it's a lot of "do this then wait".



First, you have to soak the beans for 8 hours, and then cook them for 2, and that's before you bake the final product for another hour.  If you use dry beans, that is, which I prefer.  If you want to go with drained and rinsed canned beans, I wouldn't blame you.  And it would cut a good 10 hours off of this process.  But sometimes, if you have the time to spare, the extra time is worth it.  So I'm going to give you the long version this time, and if you're using canned beans, just ignore the first couple of steps.  Sound like a plan?

So, take a cup and a half of dried beans.  I found a great mix of dried beans of all colors, and decided to give them a go.  I really like using a mix of beans in my baked beans, because it mikes it more interesting.  Some people call it "calico beans" when you use multiple types of beans, so I guess these could be Calico Cowboy Beans, but why complicate things?

Sort through the beans and pick out any stones.  I've never found any, but all the directions I've ever read about using dried beans says to do this, so I'm guessing there's a good reason for it.  Give them a good rinse, and then put them in a pot and cover with clean water until the water is over them beans by an inch.  Let them sit at room temp for 8 hours.  I threw mine in after I made the kids breakfast this morning, then let it sit all day while I was at work.


After the 8 hours, drain the soaking water and rinse the beans.  Then put them in the pot again and cover them with clean water until they are submerged at least an inch.  Bring the beans and water to a boil and then cover and simmer for around 2 hours, until the beans are tender.  Watch the liquid to make sure it doesn't all evaporate and start burning the beans, but this part is pretty hands-off.  I set it boiling as the kids were getting home from school, and just let it simmer while we worked on chores and homework.


Preheat your oven to 350.

Chop an onion into a small dice.  Take a pound of ground beef and brown it in a large pan with the onion.  If you have some bacon on hand, chop that and throw it in too, if you'd like.  I had some bacon fat on hand, so I threw in a little of that for the smoky flavor.

Once that is browned, mix in about a cup of your favorite barbecue sauce, 4 tablespoons molasses or sorghum, a teaspoon of chili powder, and 2 tablespoons of your favorite vinegar.  I used a black mission fig balsamic this time, but apple cider vinegar is a pretty standard go-to.  Give it a good stir and bring it up to a simmer.


Drain the beans and add them to the meat mixture.  Pour it into a baking dish.  Pop it into the oven to cook for an hour at 350 degrees.


Serve with some cornbread and some veg, and BOOM...comfort food dinner.  It's meaty, it's kicky, it's sweet.  Great grub to rustle up for your family.