Drunken Beans

IMG_9092I know this might surprise some of you, but there are times when I do really stupid things. Sometimes those things are forgivable, like eating a bag of Famous Amos cookies and a Diet Coke for lunch, but sometimes I pull some really egregious shenanigans that embarrass even me (and I’m a guy known to order pig intestines in restaurants). My most recent bone-headed move was buying a growler of Josiah Moody’s fantastic Scotch Ale yesterday at Vino’s…and then just letting it sit. By the time I got around to cracking that bad boy open, a lot of the carbonation had escaped, and I was left with the knowledge that I had committed quite a sin against one of God’s gifts to mankind: beer. And not just any beer, but a beer that I’ve waited around to be brewed since last year, from my favorite brewery on the face of this great earth. Something had to be done, something that could live up to the quality of the beer I had so carelessly mistreated. There was but one answer: a big pot of drunken beans.

IMG_9089Michael’s Drunken Beans

  • 1 pound dry beans. Pick your favorites. I like red beans the most with barbecue, so that’s what you see here, but this technique works with pintos, black beans, or navy beans.
  • 1/2 pound bacon
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Your favorite barbecue sauce. Make your own, or use a good bottled kind. I’m using a new (to me) brand called “My Uncle’s Sauce” that was given to me by a nice guy I met recently who is trying to open a food truck. It’s good stuff.
  • Beer. If you want to use cheap, horrible beer, that’s fine. A good amber ale works nicely with beans. And since I’ve got some half-flat Scotch Ale at my disposal tonight — I’m using that.

Don’t worry about soaking your beans overnight. Cover them without about an inch of water in a kettle and bring them to a boil on your stove top. When they’ve reached a boil, turn the heat off, cover, and let sit for an hour or two. During this time, cook your bacon. You can either cook the 1/2 pound I called for and retain the meat and fat, or you can admit you are a bacon fiend and cook an entire pound, eating half and leaving yourself with a second half pound for the beans. Up to you — I won’t tell anyone.

Rinse your beans in a colander, returning them to the kettle. Pour a bunch of beer into the beans. If you have enough to cover them, do that. I like to pour in enough to get right to the point of covering them and then add some chicken stock for extra flavor. Crumble up the half pound of bacon you didn’t eat and toss into the pot. Using some of the retained bacon fat, cook the onions until they become translucent and somebody from the next room says, “My GOD what are you making that smells so good?!” When that happens, add the garlic just to tease them and saute for three more minutes. Dump the whole lot — onions, garlic, and bacon fat into the pot. Bring everything to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about an hour. Add liquid if needed — more beer, stock, or water.

Once your beans have gotten soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed, add in as much of the barbecue sauce as you’d like, and adjust your salt and pepper to taste. Put the kettle into the oven and cook baked-bean style until the barbecue sauce has darkened and begun to caramelize. If you like sweeter beans, add a touch of brown sugar before baking. If you like hot, add your favorite hot sauce. Use your imagination. You’ll be left with a pan of beans flavored with the rich barley malt flavor of beer and brought to perfection by tangy barbecue sauce. Serve with cole slaw and barbecue chicken — or whatever floats your boat. Enjoy!

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Final Seattle Round-up

zeitgeist

Zeitgeist Coffee

As the second week of 2013 gets underway, I find myself possessed of a few odds and ends from Seattle that are not quite big enough to make into a whole post but too good to just forget. So as a way of capping my on-going series from the Pacific Northwest, I present to you this round-up of all the little things worth knowing:

Best Coffee Shop: How do you pick a favorite coffee shop in a part of the world known for them? Take two tired people, add in a lot of walking in the cold, and stir with the fortuitous find of Zeitgeist Coffee. This Pioneer Square coffee shop was spacious, wonderfully noisy, and served up huge cups of strong, creamy coffee that warmed us and got us back up and going when we needed it most.

Mr. D's Gyros

Mr. D’s Gyros

Best Street Food: We ate a lot of good street food, but our hands-down favorite was the gyros wrap from Mr. D’s Greek Delicacies in the Pike Place Market. Tender shaved lamb, tangy tzatziki, and soft pita made this one heck of a sandwich. I’m a little nuts for gyros anyway, so it was a great pleasure for me to eat this messy mass of Mediterranean deliciousness.

Best Food we Bought for Other People but Wound up Eating Ourselves: Chukar Cherries. Not only that but we ate more free samples than was probably polite. Don’t worry, we brought some replacements home for everyone else.

Fish n' Chips

Fish n’ Chips

Biggest Discrepancy: The waterfront was home to both our most expensive meal and our least, with the least being a paper tray of crispy battered cod and a pile of potato wedges served alongside a bowl of clam chowder. While nothing about this little meal was mind-blowing, the fish was hot and tasty, the potatoes nice and mealy, and the chowder was creamy and good. As a quick meal, we certainly could have done worse (and, in fact, probably did).

There were, of course, a few places that just barely rate a mention, including the strange little Mexican place we had nachos and Coronas at on our second night, the odd-ball coffee shop/art gallery where we shook off our celebratory post-election hangovers, and the many pastries and snacks we grabbed on the go. Seattle is a great town for food, and while Jess and I didn’t even begin to scratch the surface, we just take that as a reason to go back. Cheers!