• Just about every barbecue joint we have ever been to serves some form of baked beans. Each is a little different--according to the pitmaster’s whims--though they all share a pretty similar sweet, smoky flavor. We wanted to make our own version of barbecued beans at home in a slow cooker. Here’s what we discovered: shopping list
  • Choose small white beans and soak them overnight for the creamiest, most tender texture. shopping list
  • Add smoky flavor via fine-chopped bacon. There’s no need to sauté it; it will dissolve into the beans during the long, slow simmer. shopping list
  • Add lots of onions and garlic and sauté them before assembling all the ingredients in the slow cooker. Many slow cooker recipes skip this step for convenience’s sake, but we think the rich flavor the step generates is well worth the extra effort. shopping list
  • Blend barbecue sauce and an unexpected ingredient, coffee, for a deep, resonant flavor. Reserve the coffee until the beans have cooked; otherwise it will make the beans taste bitter. shopping list
  • Add a little barbecue sauce and mustard (along with the coffee) to the beans just before serving for an accent. shopping list

How to make it

  • Bull’s-Eye Barbecue Sauce is our favorite brand, but any supermarket or homemade barbecue sauce will work (see related recipe). Serve with a bottle of Tabasco for extra heat.
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 3 onions , chopped medium
  • Table salt
  • 8 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 1/4 cup barbecue sauce (see note above)
  • 2 pounds dried small white beans (4 cups), picked over, rinsed, and soaked overnight
  • 8 ounces bacon (8 slices), chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 6 cups boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
  • 1/2 cup strong black coffee (optional)
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 15 seconds. Stir in 1 cup of the barbecue sauce, scraping up any browned bits. Bring to a simmer, then pour into the slow cooker.
  • 2. Drain the beans. Add the beans, bacon, brown sugar, and then the boiling water to the slow cooker. Cover and cook, on either low or high, until the beans are quite soft, 9 to 10 hours on low or 7 to 8 hours on high. Before serving, stir in the mustard, coffee (if using), and remaining 1/4 cup barbecue sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.

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