Smoke adds a distinctly campfire taste to this frontier classic. Throw in leftover smoked pork, ribs or brisket for a more substantial dish. Make sure the pot you choose will fit under the cover of your grill, or cook the beans in a fire pit or over a campfire, cowboy style. Alternatively, you can cook the beans on the stovetop. Serve as a side dish with plenty of grilled bread for mopping up the sauce.
- 1/2 lb. thick-cut smoked bacon
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1/2 lb. dried Great Northern or small white beans, picked over, soaked overnight in water to cover and drained
- 1 cup basic barbecue sauce (see related recipe at left)
- 1/2 cup tomato ketchup
- 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
- 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbs. dry mustard
- 1 Tbs. granulated garlic
- 1 Tbs. chili powder
If cooking the beans on a grill, prepare a medium fire in the grill.
In a large, heavy-lidded pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp and the fat begins to render, 8 to 10 minutes. Discard the fat, leaving a few tablespoons in the pot. Add the onion to the pot, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the beans, barbecue sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, molasses, vinegar, Dijon mustard, dry mustard, garlic and chili powder. Add enough water to just cover the beans, up to 2 cups, and stir well.
Place the pot on the grill rack over the hottest part of the fire. Or, keep the pot on the burner over medium heat. Partially cover the pot and simmer the beans, stirring occasionally, until deep dark brown in color and thick, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8. Adapted from Williams-Sonoma On the Grill, by Willie Cooper (Oxmoor House, 2009).