Two years ago, just ahead of the Memorial Day mad dash to Costco, Hubby and I went in for big hunks of everything. The year before we had gotten a great deal on King Crab Legs, and had planned to make King Crab Legs again. Much to our dismay, Costco did not stock the crab legs we were looking for, so we settled on Snow Crab Legs instead. Maybe there was an issue with King Crab that year.
For anyone who has shopped Costco, you know when you walk in the door that you are going to walk out with more than what you have on your list. It’s all those “free” samples that get you as you wander up and down the food aisles. I don’t know about you but I’ve gone home with giant wedges of imported cheese, smoked meats, seasonings and all sorts of yummy things in quantities too huge for my family. Near the end of a line of refrigerated cases, Costco was serving up “samples” of a baked bean that rocked my world – Guy Fieri’s Old-School Baked Beans. Naturally, I had to pick up the twin pack of beans. (Hubby rolled his eyes when he saw the giant tubs of beans in our cart) Hey, in all fairness, the nice lady handing out samples also gave me a coupon for a dollar off. What a deal!
A few months later, while searching for a few new side dish recipes, I stumbled upon Guy’s recipe for the Old-School Bake Beans. It was posted on ABC News – part of a cooking demonstration Guy had done for Good Morning America. The beans are designed for camping – or at the very least, to be cooked over an open fire. Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t do Guy’s style of camping. A camp stove, sure. A portable grill, you bet. Guy Fieri’s set up, no way . . . we are talking serious campfire cooking here.
One of these days, I’ll get around to adapting Guy’s recipe for the home-cook. In the meantime, for you serious “old school” campers, here’s Guy’s to die for baked beans.
Guy Fieri’s Old-School Baked Beans
1 pound pinto, or navy, or red kidney beans
2 to 3 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon canola oil
6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, finely diced
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup bourbon
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large pot, cover the beans with water and soak overnight. The next day, start a good camp fire (in a cowboy cauldron or other grill) with wood and wait until flames die down and coals glow red with white ash. Lower a grilling rack so it sits about 2-3 inches above coals. Add bay leaf to pot with beans and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 30 minutes then drain the beans, reserving the liquid.
Adjust rack over fire so it is about 4 or 5 inches above coals for medium heat. In a large Dutch oven, add canola oil and render the bacon until crispy and golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Reduce the heat by moving Dutch oven to edge of grill (or increasing height of grill) and in the leftover bacon fat, sauté the onion and peppers, until translucent, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the beans and bacon back in and stir in the remaining ingredients. Pour the reserved soaking liquid in – enough to just cover the beans.
Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook over low heat for 45 to 55 minutes, stirring occasionally so the beans cook evenly. Check occasionally and add more water if the liquid has reduced too much. Season with salt and pepper, increase heat on beans and cook for a further 30 minutes until beans are tender and sauce has reduced to a nice thick consistency that clings to the beans.
Prep-Ahead Tip: Soak the beans before you head out camping – place them in an airtight container with water and take them with you so they soak as you travel. Once beans are cooked it’s also nice to mash a few into the sauce to naturally thicken the braising liquid.