Smoky Barbecue Beans Recipe

Smoky Barbecue Beans Recipe

Smoked meat and beans are best friends. [Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

These smoky barbecue beans aren't the over-sweet, molasses-y ones you're used to. Instead, they're deeply spiced with paprika, cumin, and plenty of black pepper, and given added depth with dried red chilies. Chunks of smoked meat (sausage, leftover barbecue, bacon, or whatever else you have on hand) add a campfire fragrance to round them out.

Why It Works

  • Smoked meat and a blend of spices add tons of flavor to beans, whether you slow-simmer them or cook them rapidly under pressure.
  • Contrary to popular belief, adding salt to the bean-cooking water helps tenderize them more evenly.
  • Yield:Serves 8 to 12
  • Active time: 20 minutes
  • Total time:1 1/2 hours (using a pressure cooker) or up to 1 day (on the stovetop)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (450g) dried pinto beans, picked over
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) vegetable oil or lard
  • 1 large onion (about 8 ounces; 225g), finely diced
  • 2 stalks celery (about 4 ounces; 115g), finely diced
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 4 teaspoons)
  • 1 tablespoon (12g) ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon (12g) paprika
  • 2 tablespoons (20g) coarsely ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 whole dried New Mexico, guajillo, California, or pasilla chilies, stems and seeds removed, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons (5g) dried oregano
  • 8 to 12 ounces (225 to 340g) leftover smoked beef, pork, or turkey, chopped (see note above)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup (2.25 ounces) brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) apple cider vinegar

Directions

  1. 1.

    To Cook on the Stovetop: Place beans in a large bowl and cover with water by at least 2 inches. Add 1 tablespoon salt, stir to dissolve, and let beans stand on the countertop overnight.

  2. 2.

    The next day, drain beans and set aside. Heat vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add cumin, paprika, black pepper, dried chilies, oregano, and chopped meat. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add beans, bay leaves, and 8 cups (2L) water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a bare simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are completely tender and liquid is reduced to a rich consistency, about 3 hours. Stir in sugar to dissolve, stir in vinegar, season to taste with salt and pepper, discard bay leaves, and serve.

  3. 3.

    To Cook in a Pressure Cooker: Heat vegetable oil in pressure cooker medium-high heat until shimmering (if using an electric pressure cooker, set it to "sauté" and allow to preheat). Add onion and celery and cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add cumin, paprika, black pepper, dried chilies, oregano, and chopped meat. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add beans, bay leaves, and 6 cups (1.5L) water. Place lid on cooker and cook at high pressure for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and release pressure in short bursts. Remove lid and simmer until beans are completely tender and liquid is reduced to a rich consistency, about 15 to 30 minutes. Stir in sugar to dissolve, stir in vinegar, season to taste with salt and pepper, discard bay leaves, and serve.