Beanhole Beans

This is the granddaddy of all baked beans recipes: made from scratch, in a Dutch Oven and smoked on the grill. It’s a basis in reality for all family gatherings, be they seasonal celebrations, weddings, or funerals.

Advance preparation:
Soak the beans overnight before you plan to cook.

1 lb dried navy beans
10 slices thick sliced bacon
1 lg onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup ketchup
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
6 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp Tabasco
2 tsp liquid smoke
Coarse salt
Black pepper, freshly ground
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 cup beer

1 dutch oven (cast iron /ceramic pot)
1 1/2 cups wood chips or chunks soaked in water for 1 hr to cover, then drained.

Spread the beans out on a rimmed baking sheet and pick through them discarding any foreign matter such as pebbles or twigs. Place beans in a colander and rinse under cold water; then place in a large pot and add water to cover by 4 inches. Let the beans soak for at least 4 hrs or as long as overnight.

Drain the soaked beans in a colander and place them back in the pot. Add water to cover by 4 inches and bring to a boil over high heat. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface, then reduce the heat to medium and cover the pot. Let the beans simmer until they are tender, 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 hrs. When done, you should be able to crush a bean easily between your thumb and forefinger. Drain the beans well, reserving 2 cups of the bean-cooking liquid.

Place the drained beans in a large bowl. Stir in the bacon slivers, onion, bell pepper, garlic, molasses, ketchup, brown sugar, mustard,Tabascosauce, liquid smoke, if using, and cloves. Taste for seasoning, adding more brown sugar and/or mustard as necessary and salt and pepper to taste; the beans should be highly seasoned. Add the beer and enough bean-cooking liquid to cover the beans by 1 inch.  Drink the rest of the beer. Place 3 of the whole bacon slices on the bottom of the Dutch oven. Spoon in the beans and arrange the remaining 3 bacon slices over the top. Cover the pot.

Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium low.

When ready to cook, place the Dutch oven in the centre of the hot grate, away from the heat, and cover the grill. Cook beans for 1 hour.

Uncover the pot and check to see that the beans are not starting to dry out. If they are, add some of the bean-cooking liquid. Leave the beans uncovered. If using a charcoal grill, toss all of the wood chips or chunks on the coals and cover the grill. If using a gas grill, toss all of the wood chips or chunks in the smoker box and run the grill on high until you see smoke, then reduce the heat to medium and cover the grill. Continue cooking the beans until the juices are thick and the beans are very tender, 30 minutes to 1 hour or longer. When the beans are done, they’ll be soft, sweet, dark, rich and moist, but not soupy.

Adapted from Steven Raichlen’s BBQ USA. April 2003. Workman Publishing. New York. 

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