Cowboy Beans (photo)

Cowboy Beans

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups dried pinto beans
  • 1 Tbsp bacon fat (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil (if not using the bacon fat, use 2 Tbsp vegetable oil)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 5 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 smoked ham hock or ham shank
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups black coffee
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato-based barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped pickled jalapeños (optional)
  • Grated Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese for garnish (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion for garnish (optional)
  • Salt to taste

Method

1 Put the beans into a large pot and add enough water to cover by an inch. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes while you prepare the onions, then drain.

2 Heat the bacon fat and the vegetable oil in a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed lidded pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring often, until translucent and just beginning to brown. Add the garlic and sauté another 1-2 minutes.

3 Add the drained beans into the pot with the onions. Add the ham hock, the water, a little salt, and the coffee. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cook this way for 40-50 minutes or longer. (Some beans may take longer to cook, especially if they are older.) The beans should be edible, but still just a little firm (not mushy soft).

4 Add the barbecue sauce and stir to combine. Cover and simmer on low heat until the meat from the ham hock begins to separate from the bone, up to 2 hours. Check on everything from time to time. If the beans begin to break down, pull the ham hock and strip the meat from the bone. The acid from the barbecue sauce should help the beans hold their shape. Add salt to taste. Add pickled jalapeños or some Tabasco to taste for some heat.

Serve with a little grated cheese and chopped red onion on top.