Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hot and Smoky Beer Beans

I volunteer to work funeral luncheons at church. It started as a way to get out of the house and have something to do. Now, I really really like it. I get to cook recipes I either never get to cook, like mac and cheese, or recipes that would be dangerous to keep around the house, like these cookies. But also I get to feel helpful, which I really like.

Today though was different. Today a very popular older man was buried. And while there were a bunch of little old ladies at church for the funeral luncheon who reminded me of Grandma Mazur in the Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum novels. You know, the downright tiny old women who go to funerals because they're the most exciting things in town. Anyway, so it was a standard funeral until the end. I put on my coat and grabbed my plate of leftover brownies for my husband. They always push the extra food on me and sometimes I take it for the Brain. So the recent widow saw me start to leave and came over and hugged me and thanked me for working the funeral luncheon when I'd never met her before.

I felt so SAD all of the sudden. It was like here was this nice woman and suddenly her husband was dead. And yet she handled it with such grace. I have never felt so touched. Here this woman was dealing with her grief and her family and the funeral and she thought to come over to me, the girl she didn't know pouring coffee for people and thank me. Really impressive.

So tonight I needed some comfort food. And what better comfort food is there than some spicy baked beans? Spicy baked beans with bacon and beer! OK, if you were a vegetarian, or for some other reason willingly deprived yourself of bacon, then you could leave the bacon out and just use some olive oil. But seriously this is good. I rinsed the beans because I have unnatural fear of bean goo. I have issues. I know. But bean goo is just beyond gross to me even if it would make the liquid thicker. These beans, some nice thick slices of this bread slathered with butter makes the ultimate in comfort food. So delicious.

Hot and Smoky Beer Beans
adapted from Bon Appetit

3 bacon slices
1 medium onion chopped
1/2 cup purchased barbecue sauce (such as Sweet Baby Ray's)
1/2 cup dark beer (such as Elliot Ness Amber Lager)
2 Tbsp dark molasses
4 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp cayenne pepper
3 (15oz) cans Great Northern beans, drained

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to paper towels and drain. Transfer bacon grease to large bowl. Finely chop bacon and add to bowl. Add onion, barbecue sauce, beer, molasses, mustard, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce and whisk to blend. Whisk in cayenne pepper. Stir in beans. Pour bean mixture into 8x8 inch dish and put in the oven to bake for about an hour or until it gets bubbly and thickens.

Cool 10 minutes.


Anonymous said...

That is such a wonderful thing that you do, we are fairly new to this area and I would love to find a way to get involved like that.

Mary said...

Chelley- I actually just went down to the church office and said that I liked to cook and was looking for volunteer opportunities. They then signed me up. Try that. It's a great way to get involved.

glamah16 said...

That's a great service. My older aunts are like those old woman going to funerals and gossiping about it after. I have had my share of funerals this decade with my parents( ironicaly everyone says I should go in to funeral biz because I did a great job...but I digress). I love bean dishes like this. Great comfort food and you obviously have the gift of comforting.

Peter M said...

My mom used to help out at the church too and it included funeral luncheons.

We (Greeks) do a baked beans too. I suppose it's comforting.

Pixie said...

what a lovely lady to say such kind words to you on such a difficult day

this dish sounds very comforting and is quite new to me

Bellini Valli said...

Good for you for volunteering in this way Mary. Volunteering is a wonderful way to get to know people in your area as well as feeling good about it.Like the beans too:D

Cynthia said...

You will be eternally blessed!

Tempered Woman said...

Alright- I'm starting to think it's time for an intervention. That's the 3rd beer recipe in a row. Is there something you are trying to tell us? A cry for help perhaps? ;-)
I just love that churches can find a place for everybody. You so rock for utilizing your strengths to help others.

Deborah said...

What an honorable thing to do!! I'm impressed!

The beans sound very comforting in deed. Bring on the bacon!

Anonymous said...

Must pass this post on to my friend sozzled, who is a bonafied church kitchen lady. And, a rabid beer drinker. And, yes, when you are planning the after funeral gathering, you cannot imagine how thankful you are for the people who cook the food for you. Especially when it's your Mom's funeral ...

sozzled said...

I actually enjoying being a funeral church kitchen lady....people are so grateful, and it is nice to be there for them when they really need you. I'd rather serve a funeral than help with a wedding any day of the week. Plus, no one ever complains!

And yes as standing still noted I am a fan of beer, but mostly for drinking, not so much cooking with it ;-)