Monday, July 7, 2014

It's Monday! And Bourbon BBQ Baked Beans

Although Sunday is our favorite day of the week, there's something special about Monday. Every week, a new beginning rolls around—a new weekly goal list, filled with possibilities.

Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning. – Gloria Steinem

This week, I’m going to sign up for the painting class that has been on my mind for months.  I’m going to continue to practice yoga (for at least a few minutes) each morning.  I’m going to spend time each day in silent prayer and meditation.  I’m going to give myself permission to take breaks from my to-do list to get outside and enjoy the sunshine.  And I’m going to make these Bourbon BBQ Baked Beans, because they remind me of my childhood and family picnics.

First, make the Bourbon BBQ sauce.  This will make more than you need, but you can use the leftovers as a substitute for ketchup or any other BBQ sauce.  It freezes beautifully.

For the baked beans, you can start from dried (which I usually do), or you can use canned beans (which is absolutely okay!).  Either one will work, and they will both make a delicious dish.  The secret is in the slow cooking, so the beans get silky and the sauce gets thick, with concentrated spicy-sweetness.

Beans, obviously, are filled with fiber and a good source of plant protein.  These Bourbon BBQ Baked Beans are meatless, which makes them a great potluck or picnic dish.  Add a salad filled with beautiful local greens, and you can call it lunch, or dinner.

Here’s to dreaming, and a week filled with possibilities.

Bourbon BBQ Sauce

Makes about 4 cups

1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes, to taste
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cumin seed, toasted and ground
½ teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ginger
1, 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
¼ cup Kentucky Bourbon, such as Maker’s Mark
2 tablespoons mustard
¼ cup blackstrap molasses
1/3 cup brown sugar
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat a large pot over medium heat.  Add olive oil, onions, garlic, red pepper flakes and salt.   Sauté about 20 - 30 minutes, or until onions are almost falling apart and starting to brown.  Add cumin, allspice and ginger and stir. 

Add tomatoes, bourbon, mustard, molasses, brown sugar, and apple cider vinegar.  Simmer for about an hour, or until sauce has thickened.  Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.  You can puree the sauce if you want to, or you can serve as is.

Southern Baked Beans

Serves about 8 - 10

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cans of pinto beans or 8 cups cooked pinto beans, with some of their cooking water
1 ½ cups Bourbon BBQ Sauce

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Heat a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and sauté for about 10 – 15 minutes or until onion is translucent and very tender.  

Drain the beans, but reserve the cooking liquid.  Add the beans to the pot and add just enough liquid to come up to the top of the beans.  

Add about 1 ½ cups of the barbeque sauce to the beans and stir.  Pour the beans into a large casserole dish.  

Place in the oven and cook for about 2 hours, or until most of the liquid has evaporated.  The beans should be thick.  Alternatively, you can cook this in the slow cooker.  Just cook on low for 6 – 8 hours.   

Enjoy, preferably with someone you love!

To cook the beans from scratch

1 pound dried pinto beans
1 onion, halved
1 carrot
2 stalks celery
2 – 3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon salt

Place the beans in a large pot and cover with water by at least 4 inches.  Cover and let soak at least 8 hours.  Alternatively, bring the beans to a rolling boil for a few minutes.   Turn off the heat, cover and let sit for 1 hour.

Drain water off the beans and discard soaking water.  Return beans to pot and cover again with fresh, cold water, covering by a few inches.  Add onion, carrot, celery and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, cooking about 1 hour or until the beans are almost tender.  Add the salt and continue cooking until the beans are very tender.  Taste and adjust amount of salt, if necessary.  It should have the saltiness of a good chicken broth.  Discard onion, carrot, celery and bay leaves.

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