But since June is nearly over, I decided it was finally time to carpe diem (inspired by Cher's character in Clueless, a truly great film) and I cooked up a big ol' pot of these lovely beans a few days ago as part of my Fourth of July Feast. These vegetarian beans make a nice addition to any party where you're serving a ton of grilled meat so that our non-flesh-eating brothers and sisters need not suffer any protein-deprivation.
I used kidney beans since I had a bunch of them in the pantry but I think that I might go with pintos next time around since they're even creamier.
After the soaking comes the cooking. It's crucial to cook the beans to your desired softness before adding the other ingredients since the acid in the tomatoes will stop the beans from softening any further, no matter how long you cook 'em.
Then you add the other ingredients (tomatoes, brown sugar, chipotles, onion, garlic, etc.,) and move the beans into the oven to bake for several hours. Mine had to shove over to make room for the cornbread for a little while but they seemed to get along just bee-yoo-ti-fully in spite of the cramped quarters and heated atmosphere.
Like any dish made with dried beans, a little forethought is required to allow time for the beans to soak overnight and for the long cooking required to render them soft, creamy and flavorful. Otherwise, the process is a breeze! And, of course, if you're in a rush, you could use canned beans (I promise I won't tell the foodie police if you do.) If you want to go that route, just substitute 3 15-oz cans of pinto or kidney beans, drained and rinsed and begin at step 2 in the directions below.
I served these beans with barbecued beef short ribs, coleslaw, cornbread and a salad of the most delightful greens, fresh from my mom-in-law's garden.
Smoky-Spicy-Sweet Barbecue Baked Beans
* 2 cups dried pinto or kidney beans, soaked overnight and drained
* 6 cups water
* 1 onion, thinly sliced
* 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
* 1 1/2 cups (1 15 oz can or jar) strained or pureed tomatoes or unseasoned tomato sauce
* 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
* 2 Tbsps minced chipotle pepper canned in adobo sauce
* 2 Tbsps soy sauce
1. Combine the beans with the water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat slightly and boil gently, covered for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the beans are completely tender. Do not undercook; the beans will not soften further once they're combined with the tomatoes.
2. Preheat the oven to 300 F. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beans to a large oven-safe pot with lid or covered casserole dish. Add the onion, garlic, tomato puree, brown sugar, chipotles and soy sauce and stir to combine evenly.
3. Cover and bake for 2 to 3 hours, until the sauce is a nice thick consistency. If necessary, you can remove the lid during the last 30 minutes to allow more of the liquid to cook off. Serve hot.
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