Bourbon Bacon Beans are a sweet and savory side dish that pairs perfectly with milder proteins, like chicken breasts. This is a sponsored post via Kitchen Play, in which I have been paid a sum of money to both try Tesoro tomatoes and discuss using them. I was sent Cooking Slow for the purpose of an honest review. Affiliate links have been used in this post, but only to link to items/pages that I would be linking to anyway in the normal course of my discussion.
Guys! All I can think about is holiday baking, which is making it hard for my brain to adjust to sharing a savory recipe with you. And not just any savory recipe, but one that, if I am honest, you would enjoy just as much in the summer as a side to your BBQ as you would in the winter served as I have here. In other words, nothing really in the Christmas spirit. But you know what is in the holiday spirit? New cookbooks. Autumn sees the best roll out of new cookbooks of the entire year. And if something inspires you, well, season be damned. It’s time for some baked beans!
I will tell you about the cookbook that inspired these beans, but first some required fine print that also inspired my meal! This is a sponsored post on behalf of Kitchen Play, meaning I was paid a small fee to try and then discuss a particular product, Tesoro Tomatoes (and Kitchen Play helps facilitate the relationship, if you are wondering where they come into it). I won’t lie, I was a little skeptical as I swear by local tomatoes in the summer, to the extent that I freeze them seasonally. Although these tomatoes will probably never compete for me with a plain fresh picked ripe tomato on a sunny August day, they did make a fantastic BLT, which Sammy now wants to take with her to school amusingly enough:
My mother in law making a BLT for Sammy with the Tesoro tomatoes
One of the special things about Tesoro tomatoes is the fact that they are almost all “meat” or “flesh” with much less of the juicy gel–in other words, they were a joy to slice and gather up when adding them to the bean dish. Also because of this, they get sandwiches less soggy and they cook beautifully, having much less liquid that needs to be cooked off first. These beans were very rich with deep tomato flavor and I was happy I had the Tesoro tomatoes to use.
A shot after the tomatoes have cooked down in the baked beans
Now about the cookbook. I requested Cooking Slow: Recipes for Slowing Down and Cooking More by Andrew Schloss from the publisher, and was quite excited when they sent it to me. Everything about this cookbook is completely up my alley. I love slow cooking, and I love that Andy’s recipes truly call for slow cooking–many of the recipes call for cooking at 200 F for as much as 10 hours (!) which I think is fantastic. He also has a great variety of influences, everything from Mexican to European to Indian, which is also perfect for me. My only complaint about the book is that some of the recipes only call for the slow cooker. I will just adjust the recipe for oven braising, but I kind of think it is a bummer that I even have to think about it. It is not advertised as a slow cooker cookbook, so I think all the recipes should also include instructions for people who choose not to use slow cookers. But this is a tiny complaint in the face of such an awesome book!
The minute I saw this bean recipe I knew I was making it. Bourbon. Bacon. Enough said.
Some notes: the flavor is pretty intense, in a good way, so I think they paired fantastically with a milder, savory meat, like a seared and baked chicken breast. We had just gotten home from being out of town or I would have served a salad or maybe some broccoli, but all I had was some celery, cucumbers and tomatoes–try not to judge! I was (shockingly) out of molasses so I used piloncillo, which is basically unrefined cane sugar before the molasses comes out. I have listed both ways in the recipe. Last, if desired you can use canned beans in this recipe (indeed, I chose to throw in some kidney beans toward the end when I thought it was a little too saucy for my tastes) but you know me and you know that I think home cooked dried beans have better flavor.
- 1 lb dried beans (he suggests Great Northern, I used Cannellini, but really any bean will do)
- 2 T extra virgin olive oil divided
- 8 oz bacon, finely chopped
- 2 med-large onions, finely chopped
- salt to taste (as called for in recipe)
- 1 T smoked paprika
- 1 T minced fresh thyme (or 1 t dried, I used fresh)
- 1 t dried Mexican oregano
- 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 t chipotle powder
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 4-5 Roma or Tesoro sized tomatoes, chopped, with juices
- 1 bay leaf
- 2/3 cup piloncillo (or 1/3 cup molasses and 1/3 cup white sugar)
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup Bourbon
- 2 T Dijon mustard
- 1 T dark soy sauce
- 1 can (15 oz) beans of choice to add if desired (optional, see instructions)
Rinse your dried beans and place them in a large pot. Fill the pot with water to cover the beans by 2 inches and then bring to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Let boil for 5 minutes and then cover, reducing heat to low. Let cook until they are tender but firm, which will depend on the age of your beans.
Check occasionally to see if they need more water (make sure the beans stay covered). At the end, add 1 teaspoon of salt and let them soak in that water for at least 10 minutes.
Drain the beans and set aside.
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium low heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil with the bacon. Let it cook for about 15 minutes, to allow the fat to render out of the bacon without crisping much, if at all.
Add the onions with a pinch of salt. Let cook for 10 minutes on medium heat now, until the onions are starting to turn gold at the edges (keep stirring so the bacon does not burn). Add the paprika, chipotle, thyme, oregano and black pepper with another pinch of salt. Cook for 1 minute. Then add the garlic and bay leaf and mix that in. Cook for another minute.
Add the piloncillo or sugar and molasses, along with the tomatoes, chicken stock, bourbon, mustard and soy sauce. Don't inhale too deeply--the alcohol is quite strong at this point! Bring this to a gentle boil and then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer.
Add the beans, return the liquid to a boil, cover the pot, and then reduce the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer.
After about 2 hours, check to see if you like the ratio of beans to sauce. I wanted a lot of beans, so at this point I added an additional can of drained and rinsed kidney beans (what I happened to have around).
Simmer about another hour (for a total of 3 hours), until the sauce has thickened and the beans are tender, creamy and flavorful. Check for adding more salt (i.e., do a taste test).
The flavors will deepen even more overnight.
This is a sponsored post via Kitchen Play, in which I have been paid a sum of money to both try Tesoro tomatoes and discuss using them. All opinions are my own. Likewise, I was sent the cookbook Cooking Slow to review and use; once again all opinions are my own. As always, affiliate links have been used in this post, but only to link to items/pages that I would be linking to anyway in the normal course of my discussion.