"Not Too Sweet" Dutch Oven Baked Beans
Cooking beans over an open fire is the ultimate cowboy fantasy of chef Ben Ford. His version of baked beans takes several hours on the stove or grill, but there is no substitute for long, slow cooking. If you cook the beans on a charcoal grill, the smoke from the fire will add a nice touch.
- 2 cups (1 lb./500 g) dried pinto beans
- 1/2 lb. (500 g) thick-cut bacon, coarsely chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
- 8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 cups (24 fl. oz./750 ml) ketchup
- 1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz./105 g) firmly packed brown sugar, plus more
- 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbs. dry mustard
- 1 Tbs. chili powder
- 1 Tbs. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
Pick over the pinto beans and discard any misshapen beans and stones. Rinse the beans and drain. Place in a large bowl, add water to cover generously, and soak overnight. Drain the beans and set aside.
In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crisp, about 7 minutes. Add the onion, season with 1/4 tsp. of the salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute, stirring so it doesn’t brown. Add the beans, ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire, Dijon mustard, dry mustard, chili powder, cumin, pepper and the remaining 1/4 tsp. salt. Add enough water to just cover the beans and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook the beans, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour, adding more water as necessary to keep the beans submerged by about 1 inch (2.5 cm).
If you want to cook the beans in the smoker, move them there now. Continue cooking the beans, adding more water as needed, until they are tender, 8 to 10 hours. A few hours into the cooking, taste the sauce and add more salt, pepper or sugar (or any of the other spices) to taste. Serves 12 or more.
Adapted from Taming the Feast: Ben Ford’s Field Guide to Adventurous Cooking, by Ben Ford and Carolynn Carreño (Atria Books, 2014).