Friday, June 3, 2016

Barbecue beans

The handbrake is away for the weekend, let's make a big ol' pot of beans.

Big can of 3 or 4 bean mix
2 cans of kidney beans
1 can of Heinz Big Red tomato soup.  If you can't get Heinz Big Red, don't bother trying until you can.
3-4 onions
Garlic, preminced or fresh (probably about 3 big teaspoons or so)
6-8 full rashers of bacon.  Do not feat the fat, fat is good.
2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup vinegar (brown or white, but not red or flavoured)
3 big teaspoons dried mustard powder
Worcestershire sauce
Booze - a good glass of bourbon whisky

Liquid smoke.  This stuff is the bomb, it's like all the flavour of a wood barbecue in a little bottle.  I use the Hickory version, but the Mesquite would be nice too.  You don't need a lot of this stuff, buy a bottle of each and stick it in your cupboard for man cooking.  I used about two teaspoons for the whole pot, it goes a long way.

Chilli.  I used some Blair's Mega Death, but you could use fresh chilli too.  I put about 4 small splashes in, then emptied the last of a bottle of Frank's in too.  This gives a nice bit of flavour with a little background hear, and I have plenty of Cholula ready to go on top if needed.  The nice thing about products like Cholula is that you can add plenty and enjoy the flavour, it's not very hot.


As Jeebs said in MIB II, let's make it happen, cap'n!.

Stick yer onions and bacon in a decent pot and cook down with a little splash of olive oil.  Ideally you'd like the bacon fat to begin to melt and render a little.  Never use pissy short bacon, get the tailed stuff and cook it for flavour.

Add the garlic and cook a little.  Watch out, garlic burns and becomes bitter if you show it too much heat.  I am lazy so I used preminced jars of garlic, but I put plenty in.

When you reckon she's right, deglaze the pan and stop everything cooking for a bit by showing it the can of tomato soup.  Don't toss the tin yet, you will need some more liquid soon, and the tin is the perfect way or doing it plus doing a nice rinse.

Add the brown sugar, vinegar, mustard powder and Worcester sauce.  I like quite a bit of Worcester, it has a nice fruity quality, and the anchovies add some salt.  If you don't have the original Lea and Perrins then I reckon Lancashire Relish is a more than acceptable substitute, it has a nice range of fruit flavours too.  I know it seems like a lot of sugar, but American style cooking often does have a slightly salty-sweet end flavour which is kind of umami combined with a bit of chilli heat.  Have a taste, if you think it's too sweet add more vinegar, but you don't want it tangy.

Add the booze.  If half a glass of bourbon seems a little extreme, don't worry as it will cook down, but the flavour is unmissable.  Buy the cheapest, nastiest bottle of radiator flush you can find at the local boozerama and keep it for stuff like this.  Goes well in steak sauce, too.

Now unlid yer beans and pour off any excess syrup, but don't drain them - that's flavour.  Bung the lot in and stir through.

Now is the time to contemplate the total liquid volume, and rinse your tomato soup tin out and empty in as required.  I like my beans to be moderately risotto-loose at the end of the cook, because I like the sauce.  But then again I also eat them out of a bowl with some shredded cheddar on top, not as a side dish - if you wish to experiment with the latter, then I recommend less initial liquid or you will be cooking the bastards down forever.

I do think you need at least an hour's cooking for everything to meld nicely, and if you're going to do it in a low-liquid format, think seriously about chucking the lot into the oven at about 150°C to finish without catching on the bottom, or crusting too much.  I recommend an oven proof pot for that, but that would require thinking about that waaaay before reaching this point, so I suspect your decision has been made for you by now.

Serve as a main with some shredded jalapeno cheddar, with a nice splash of the Cholula if you like, or as a side dish taken down to refried-beans consistency alongside a chargrilled steak or chicken breast brushed with some Nando's peri-peri marinade.  Yeah baby.


Your family will not love you about 24 hours after eating a good batch of this stuff.  On the train the next day, it's the closest thing to biowarfare.

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