Success for this Saveur-approved baked bean dish all depends on what kind of barbecue sauce you douse those beans in. I have made my own versions before. This Joy of Cooking version is fine. This one from Cook's Illustrated is better. But the best, that I've had so far, is this rather time-consuming sauce from Apple City Barbecue.
I found it in Mike Mills's Peace, Love and Barbecue, which is what made me catch the barbecue bug in the first place. It's an extraordinary sauce, and so is their recipe for pork shoulder—so wonderful, though it's not exactly a Dinner Tonight.
You could just be lazy like me and buy a container of premade sauce. I recommend skipping products where sugar is the second ingredient. I found a quite good Amish brand (who knew?) in Northern Indiana that was delightfully tangy and and just slightly hot. I can't remember the name, but it was startlingly better than most sauces lining grocery store shelves.
The finished dish was a perfect side for some slow-cooked barbecue chicken. But I realize this could be a great side for any quick meal, whether or not smoke is present.
- 2 15-ounce cans cooked pinto beans, drained
- 1 cup barbecue sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 pound ham chunks (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Dump the beans into an 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish. Add the barbecue sauce, brown sugar, water and ham chunk (if using) and stir until it is mixed together. Drizzle on the Worcestershire sauce.
Place the baking dish in the oven and cook for 45 to 60 minutes. It should be bubbling in the middle and slightly crispy around the edges. Remove from the oven, and let rest for a few minutes before digging in.