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There are two schools of thought when it comes to beans served with BBQ. The first wants beans that taste smokey, like the BBQ. Generally these will be pinto beans. The second wants something to contrast the BBQ, usually with smaller beans and a vinegary, sweet, mustardy flavor. I happen to like the contrast, so I make that style most of the time and this is my recipe. These beans are more baked beans than BBQ, but they go with BBQ, and you sure could bake ’em in a Dutch Oven over a fire. Last Memorial Day I had a BBQ and these beans were the first thing to run out!

4 slices of bacon, diced
1 large yellow onion, chopped
11/2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 pound dried navy beans, rinsed and cleaned
1 cup brewed coffee (’cause why not?)
1/2 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce (KC Masterpiece will do)
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons of whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
8 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
1 shot of Bourbon if yer feelin’ feisty!

Preheat your oven to 300F degrees.

In a heavy cast-iron Dutch Oven cook the bacon over medium high heat until crisp.

Add the onions and cook until it has softened and lightly caramelized.

Add the garlic and thyme and cook for another minute. Then add the beans, coffe, BBQ sauce, mustard, molasses, Tabasco, pepper, and bourbon. Stir to combine well. Add the water and salt, raise the heat, and bring it to a boil.

Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven. Let the beans bake for 2 hours, undisturbed.

Remove the pot from the oven and stir. Return it to the oven and continuing baking until the beans are tender, usually another hour.

Once the beans are tender, remove the lid from the Dutch oven and continue cooking until the liquid has reduced to a thick consistency. This will take another hour to an hour and a half.

Remove from the oven and adjust the seasoning to taste.