Friday, June 19, 2015

Quick Barbecue Beans

I’ve collected many, many recipes for baked beans, even though I have a perfectly good one (my mom’s; I’ll have to share it here some time) to which any others would have to measure up. Lately, however, I’ve been looking for something a little quicker that might still have some of the feel of a pot of tangy-sweet slow-cooked goodness. I also wanted to eat barbecue sauce.

And so I decided to try a quick and cheating method of flavoring up some cooked beans in a skillet. I didn’t want to just drown them in barbecue sauce, and I wanted to put together something a little more versatile that might be varied in flavor depending on what I had on hand. I ended up trying a combination of simple and accessible ingredients – onion and garlic, ketchup and mustard, cider vinegar and brown sugar – as a flavor base, a combination that I thought might competently host lots of different barbecue-style sauces, from sweet to spicy, smoky to fruity. I ended up being very happy!

While I prefer the firm texture of home-cooked dried beans, you could make this even quicker by starting with canned beans. For my kitchen, I like to keep lots of cooked beans on hand in the refrigerator or freezer anyway, so I’m already prepared to take the extra time to cook them. Most recently when I made this dish, I used white navy beans, which are easy to come by, but the first few times I played around, I used brown tepary beans (which I bought from here and highly recommend). Any small bean that holds its shape well when cooked is suitable for this recipe.

I’ve used a basic “sweet and spicy” variety of a reasonably priced, well-known brand of barbecue sauce, as well as some fancier specialty sauces and all were delicious. I’m thinking of trying this Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce as well. Since the beans are fairly neutral in flavor and the base of the sauce is pretty basic, I think any barbecue sauce would be suitable. Use your favorite and, like me, you might just get a little bit excited about finding another excuse to eat barbecue sauce! 

Barbecue Beans
You could use any small, firm bean in this recipe. I prefer to cook dried beans, rather than using canned beans, but either would probably be fine.

Use your favorite barbecue sauce.

1 tablespoon canola or other neutral oil
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 medium garlic clove, finely minced
3 cups cooked and drained white navy beans (about 2 16-ounce cans)
½ teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt
½ cup ketchup
¼ cup yellow prepared mustard
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
½ cup barbecue sauce

1. Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and just beginning to brown. This should take 5-8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook about 30 seconds more.

2. Add the beans, salt, ketchup, mustard, cider vinegar and brown sugar, stirring well to coat the beans. Bring to a simmer, reduced the heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, about 8-10 minutes, or until much of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture becomes very thick.

3. Stir in the barbecue sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes more, or until thick and just beginning to get a little sticky. Taste the beans for seasoning, especially salt, and adjust as desired.

Makes about 4 side-dish servings.

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