Smoky Kansas City BBQ Beans
In Kansas City, many barbecue joints stir "burnt ends"-tough, overcooked bits of smoked brisket, ribs, or pulled pork-into their barbecued beans. This combination of smoke and pork flavor might make Kansas City beans the best in America. We wanted to translate this recipe for the home kitchen.
Why This Recipe Works
We had heard that some Kansas City restaurants suggest cooking barbecued beans on the bottom of the grill—right under a rack of ribs. The idea is that the beans will simmer in smoky heat, catching the drippings from the ribs and becoming unbelievably flavorful. When we tried it, we quickly learned that the beans must be almost fully cooked before they go onto the grill, where they pick up flavor but don’t soften much. We decided to start the beans indoors, putting them on the stovetop at the same time that the ribs went on the grill. After cooking bacon in a Dutch oven until crisp (adding a base layer of smoky flavor) and sautéing onion and garlic in the rendered fat, we added the pinto beans. An hour later we mixed in traditional ingredients—barbecue sauce, brown sugar, mustard, and hot sauce—and simmered for another hour. We placed the pan of beans under the ribs; two hours later, both were done. The smoke and pork flavors make this recipe hard to beat.