Saturday, September 11, 2010

It's a BIG day in the Cul de Sac... Neighborhood BBQ and my Side Dishes

2 years in a row makes this an annual tradition... right?

As we speak (well, type and read), I have 4 of the prettiest butts smoking in my back yard.  No, not a pack of Lucky's, I am talking Boston butts.  Badly named, as they are actually pork shoulders.  But call them what you like when they are in this form, in a few hours, they will be the guest of honor at our now annual end of summer, neighborhood BBQ.

Pulled pork for everyone!

Last year, we served 55 people.  This year, we already have that many and more who have RSVPed.

While it sounds like a lot of work, it really isn't.  Just send out a few invitations, knock on a few doors, make a few phone calls and leave a few flyers in the doors of the people not home, or that you don't know well.  Ask everyone to bring a side dish and a lawn chair.  Pray for decent weather (sunny and 80 degrees...yeah), buy a few cases of the cheapest beer you can find, tea and lemonade and let the Cul de Sac good times roll!

I've got the easy job, smoking the meat for pulled pork.  I am using my new favorite mop and finishing sauces made from my Raspberry Chipotle Paste.  Looking forward to swapping lies and tales of the Que with the neighbors.

But, along with the rest of the neighborhood, I will make a side dish...

Last night I pickled some onions.

Fast easy, tasty and since they are served soon, no need for the whole canning/preserving boiling mess.

And a nice topping for a pulled pork sandwich... 

Here's what I did...

3 Red Onions, sliced
2 whole Bay Leaves
3 dried Chili Peppers
2 TBS "Not Your grandmother's Herbes de Provence" (feel free to substitute the herbs of your choice)
1 canning jar 
3 TBS Sugar
Pinch of Salt
3/4 cup Vinegar

  • In a sauce pan, heat the vinegar, bay leaves, chili peppers, herbs, sugar and salt to boiling.
  • Add the onion slices and stir for 1 minute, till the onions get soft.
  • Transfer everything to the jar, seal and refrigerate
  • Serve as a side dish, topping for pulled pork or use in recipes.

And of course, no BBQ party in my back yard happens without my Cul de Sac famous Smoked Beans...


Alright, sit back, maybe grab that third cup of coffee, 'cause this is going to be a long portion of the post.  

I know a lot of smokers (not the Marlboro men, the indirect grilling, long and slow cooks, with a hint of Wood smoke in their food).  EVERY SINGLE SMOKER IN THE WORLD THINKS THEY HAVE THE BEST BEAN RECIPE.  Want to start a fight, tell one of these smokers that your beans are better than theirs.

My beans are better than theirs (sorry Chris).  There are lots of little details in the beans that add up to ... better.  I will pretend to be humble about my beans, and not use the word best.  But I have eaten a hundred smoker's beans... so far, mine are better.


And here's the difference...  First, like every great bean recipe, this is sweetened with not only a little brown sugar, but also molasses AND sorghum!  The M & S adds deep color, as well as extra layers of texture (makes it thick) and taste.

But the key is the spices.  With the exception of some dry mustard powder, I do not add any new spices to my beans.  Instead I add 1/2 pound of spiced meat scraps.  Either some pork tenderloin or brisket frozen from a previous cook session or I fire up the grill or smoker a few hours early and cook a few scraps before putting the beans on.  Remember what your mom served you... Pork and Beans.  Well, these are pork and beans with a bite.

For my latest session, I had smoked some pork tenderloin, stuffed with sausage..  I had already reached temperature on the pork, and was going to wrap them in foil.  I knew I was going to use this to flavor my beans.  So, I cut off an end piece (end pieces have extra spice rub on them).  I diced it up and used it in the beans.  Believe me, plenty of seasonings.

One word of caution... This technique for spicing your beans works best when you add the meat as it cooks, not at the end of the cook session.  Think making a stew or a soup.  You do not add the onion in at the end of the session, but at the beginning, when the flavor of the onion will flavor the entire pot.  Same theory with adding spice rubbed meat scraps.  It does take planning ahead, but so does any successful BBQ...

And my final secret...

Look close at the photo on the left...

I smoke my beans below the pulled pork.  Beans take about 3-4 hours to smoke.  during the last couple of hours of the cooking of the pork shoulder, I drizzle some honey on the shoulder and put the beans below the pork.  The drippings from the pork (there aren't many, it is at the end of the session remember) drop into the beans and add yet another layer of flavor and heat from the mop and dry rub that the drippings drip through.

Layers of flavors, built around different layers of flavors.  This is the menu item that people come back for seconds.

It's just pork and beans (wink nod).

OK, here's the recipe for the beans...

Ingredient list...

1/2 pound of cooked smoked meat scraps, well spiced already with spicy rub, save the end pieces from a previous cook session.
1 large white onion, finely chopped
1 medium size red onion, small diced (about 1/4 inch square) ... save these to add just prior to serving
6 ounces tomato paste
1/3 cup Brown sugar
1/3 cup Brown Sugar ... save to add just prior to serving
1/3 cup Molasses
1/3 cup Sorghum Syrup
1 TB Dry Mustard
1/4 cup White Vinegar
1-27 ounce can BUSH'S brand Country Style BBQ Beans
1-16 ounce can BUSH'S brand Pinto Beans
1-16 ounce can BUSH'S brand Great Northern Beans
1/2 bottle of 
Killians Irish red (or your favorite) Beer
Place all the ingredients in a heavy baking pan, stir well to blend ingredients. Add a full bottle of Killians if using an offset smoker, or just 1/2 bottle if using an oven. Place in cooker and allow to cook along with the meat for 2 hours, leave them in the smoker as long as the residual heat is at least 200, after you remove the meat and foil the meat (foiling the meat allows the juices to be absorbed into the meat, making it more moist and tender... but I digress).  The moisture in the bean pot will help to keep moisture circulating in your cooker.

Garnish with the red onions and a bit of brown sugar.
And fellow smokers or grillers... These are worth leaving your bean recipe behind for a try.


So, if you are in the neighborhood... Stop on by!

But bring a side dish.



  1. I would dearly love to taste those beans, but I didn't see a flyer on my door. ;-)

  2. What a great get together! Allowing the meat juices/fat drip slowly in the bean pot is an awesome idea. No doubt that your beans are the best.

  3. I really wish I could be there. It sounds like a great deal of fun could be had. I hope the day treats you well. Blessings...Mary

  4. That's a lot of butts, going for a yield of about 70+/- sandwiches? (was just guessing 8 lbs each * 60% yield, 4 oz portions)

    Can't wait to see the results and party pics. Maybe we can make it there next year, would be fun.

    And I still haven't found the perfect baked beans. I have two I like but still have yours queued up to try this season.

  5. I so want to be there! YUM! The beans look amazing. I love that fact that you save and freeze meat scraps for this. Great tip!

  6. I so want to be there! How fun. The food looks amazing...especially those beans. I love that fact that you save and freeze meat scraps to make this. Great tip!

  7. Sorry for the double post...the computer told me that it "ate" the first one. Server error...blah, blah, blah....

  8. Woweee, cher! Looks like a great shindig! Everything looks and sounds divine! Bet your neighbors are so glad that you're back? Wish I was there! Cheers!

  9. The food looks fantastic Dave and so do your photos! Nice job... Can't wait to see the photos of the party!


  10. Those do sound like some killer beans Dave! As far as the gathering, looks like a great annual tradition!