Friend of Chi Wulff and the family, mentor, occasional sage and full-time geezer Ed has a penchant for throwing get togethers where somehow we end up helping him feed 40 or better hungry friends what Ed calls ‘plain folk food’.
We’ve described Ed’s plain folk food concept a time or two previously.
Several years ago Ed had us help him with a summer barbecue feed up in the Flathead; he wanted a more southern than Texas themed menu which meant smoked pork shoulder and ribs and a nice, sweet and savory ‘barbecued bean‘ in Ed’s world (among other things, like genuine sweet tea, which is one of the South’s greatest contributions to mankind ever…).
We spent most of a sunny Flathead afternoon a few weeks before Ed’s shindig with him in the kitchen testing a few recipes until we came up with this one.
Ed wanted a bean dish that was reminiscent of the roadside ‘cue joints he loves to frequent in the South – heavy on the traditional ‘pork and bean‘, sweet with tangy barbecue sauce and packed with savory tones from sweet onions and a palette of peppers.
We convinced him that one of the secrets of great beans is the addition of finely chopped smoked brisket though he insisted on bacon as well. So we experimented and tweaked around and came up with this recipe.
The beans were a huge hit and have become a mainstay in our larder ever since; when we serve these at a party they’re typically the most requested item that folks want to ‘take just a little bit home’.
1/2 pound thick sliced bacon, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1/2 pound smoked brisket (add another 1/2 lb. bacon if there’s no brisket around)
2 15-ounce cans black beans
1 15-ounce can dark red kidney beans
3 15-ounce cans pork and beans
2 large sweet onions, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 large poblano pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 to 6 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced small
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 cups of your favorite sweet barbecue sauce
1/2 cup whole grain Dijon mustard
1/2 cup molasses
2 tsp. Kosher salt (or more to taste)
2 tsp. liquid smoke if these are destined for the oven
Fire the smoker. Fire the smoker or light your real wood charcoal if cooking on the grill.
Prep time. Trim and cut the brisket; cook the bacon until crisp and golden brown, cool and then chop into 1/2 inch pieces. We’ve taken to chopping all the vegetables in a food processor to attain a fine chop – don’t create a puree.
Combine the beans. Drain the black and red kidney beans in a colander; rinse under cold water and drain again. Combine all the beans in a large mixing bowl.
Add the flavor. Mix in the finely chopped onions, the bell, poblano and jalapeno peppers and the garlic. Mix well. Now add the brown sugar, barbecue sauce, Dijon mustard, molasses and salt. Stir again. Finally add the brisket and the bacon.
Smoke ‘em. Pour the beans into a large (turkey-sized) pan – we use stainless commercial trays though aluminum foil pans work great as well. Place the beans in a medium-low smoker for an hour or so until hot and bubbly. If using a grill, add some wood chips in a smoker box. (If cooking in the oven, which works like a charm, add the liquid smoke.)
Serve ‘em up. These aren’t just gracing the tables or tailgates at fine barbecues everywhere; they make a great riverside lunch hot out of a thermos or cold from the cooler too.