My Dad loves his beans. Every family barbecue or pot luck that will allow a big pot of beans, and I am there, trying out new recipes or dusting off one of the old family favorites. The only two gatherings that I can think of that I don’t make beans is Thanksgiving and Christmas. Maybe some day . . . but for now I’m thinking Labor Day.
This recipe was inspired by one that I found in my latest Cookbook. It’s all about cast iron cooking and John Wayne. The recipe in the book was called Bacony Baked Beans and used only white beans. The little snippet of information next to the recipe was about John Wayne’s working relationship with the legendary director, Howard Hawks. Beginning with the 1948 film Red River, the two made five films together. That got me to thinking – Red River – Red River Valley – Red Beans. Yeah. That would work. I took it out for a test drive with just a handful of ingredients – call it a serving for one spread out over a couple of days. Yeah, I knew with the first bite that Dad was going to love the Duke’s inspired beans.
Red River Valley Baked Beans
1 lb dried White Beans
1 lb dried Red Beans
1/2 lb sliced Bacon, thick cut
2 large Yellow Onions
2 Jalapeno Peppers
1 1/2 cup Barbecue Sauce (Kraft Original is fine)
3/4 cup Brown Sugar, packed
1/2 cup Ketchup
1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons dry Mustard
1/2 cup Cilantro, chopped for garnish if desired
Pick through the beans for uniform shape and color. Place the beans in a large bowl, cover with water and let soak overnight. Drain the beans, rinse well, then place in a Dutch-Oven with fresh water. Bring beans to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 2 hours. Drain the beans and set aside.
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Rinse and dry the empty dutch oven, the return to the stove over medium heat. Chop the bacon, cook in the Dutch Oven until cooked through but not crisp. While the bacon is cooking, peel and dice the onion. Set onion aside. Core the pepper, discard seeds and mince the pepper. Set aside. Once the bacon is cooked but limp, add the onions to the pot. Stir to coat with the bacon fat. Cook onions until tender, about 5 minutes, stirring the pot as needed. Add the minced jalapeno and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minutes.
Return the beans to the pot. Add barbecue sauce, brown sugar, ketchup, vinegar and dry mustard. Stir to blend. Cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
Place the lid on the Dutch Oven. Place covered pot in the oven and bake for 2 hours or until the sauce is the consistency of a syrup. Let beans cool and thicken for a few minutes before serving.
If desired, garnish with some chopped cilantro.