Friday, July 3, 2020

Instant Pot Barbecue "Baked" Beans

Instant Pot Barbecue Baked Beans

Oh, how I love barbecue. And how I love a smoky, spicy-sweet side of beans to go with it.

Just in time for the 4th of July, here's my new favorite recipe for barbecue "baked" beans--"baked" because they aren't really, since I made them in the Instant Pot.

There are lots of recipes for "barbecue beans" or "baked beans"--not really sure what the difference is I put both in the name of this dish.

I've made this dish twice, and while it was good both times, the adjustments I made for the second time were a definite improvement. I didn't have any molasses on hand the first time, so I used 1/4 cup of maple syrup (the real kind). This worked fine, but I missed that deep sweetness the molasses adds. I also used Stubbs's Sweet Honey & Spice flavor barbecue sauce the first time, which I didn't like nearly as much as the Stubb's Hickory Bourbon I used for the second batch (for the record, my favorite variety of Stubb's barbecue sauce is Sweet Heat--so amazing).

In looking at ingredient lists of other recipes to develop this dish, the one I leaned on the most was "The Best Barbecue Beans Recipe" by Joshua Bousel for Serious Eats. The accompanying photos were exactly what I wanted my beans to look like, and I liked the combination of sweet ingredients (honey, brown sugar and molasses). I made quite a few changes, but it's worth checking out.

That Serious Eats recipe goes the more traditional route of soaking the beans first and baking them in the oven, so expect an overnight soak and about 6-7 hours of cooking time. By comparison, my recipe takes a little over 2 hours--not exactly "instant" but with no soaking or oven time, it's great for whipping up "baked" beans the day before (or even day-of) you want to enjoy them without heating up your kitchen on a hot day or having to remember to soak those beans.

Instant Pot Barbecue "Baked" Beans

Ingredients for cooking the beans:
1 lb. dried pinto beans (may use other similarly sized dried beans), rinsed and examined to remove any small stones
10 cups water
1/2 tsp. salt

Ingredients for cooking the dish:
1/2 lb. bacon, cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide strips
1 1/2 cup diced (about 1 large) yellow or sweet onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 cup barbecue sauce (I recommend Stubb's Hickory Bourbon)
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tbsp. mustard (any will do, I used a grainy Dijon)
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup brown sugar (I used light, but would've used dark if I had it)
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups low sodium chicken broth

Cook the beans:

1. Combine dried beans, water and salt in an Instant Pot. Lock the lid and set to cook under high pressure for 25 minutes. When cooking time is up, allow pressure to release naturally, which takes about 10-12 minutes. Total time for this step is 50-60 minutes.

2. When pressure is fully released, unlock the lid, drain the beans and set aside in the fridge until ready to use.

Cook the dish:

1. Using the Instant Pot sauté mode, cook the bacon until browned and crisp. Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon. Remove excess bacon fat, leaving about 2 tbsp. in the pot (I used a couple paper towels to soak it up).

2. Add the onion and garlic to the pot. Sauté until softened and lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes. Turn off the Instant Pot.

3. Into the pot with the cooked vegetables, add the cooked bacon, cooked beans, barbecue sauce, ketchup, mustard, vinegar, brown sugar, honey, molasses and chicken broth (in other words, all of the remaining ingredients). Stir to combine. Lock the lid and set to cook under high pressure for 15 minutes. When cooking time is up, allow pressure to release naturally, about 10-15 minutes (vent any remaining pressure after 15 minutes). Total time for this step is 40-45 minutes.

4. Unlock the lid and stir the mixture. If a thicker texture is desired, use Sauté mode (normal setting) to evaporate some of the moisture and thicken the beans--about 10 minutes is just right for me. Allow to cool and either eat or transfer to a container with a lid to store in the fridge.

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