Spicy Bison Baked Beans

baked beans Is there anything better on a cool day than smoky baked beans with a kick?  This recipe is destined to be one that will be handed down in your family from generation to generation.  Read on find the secret to baked beans, bison style. Ingredients: 3 cups of dried beans cleaned and rinsed and re-hydrated.  Make sure there are no little rocks hiding in the beans.  That's a sure way to get a broken tooth.  And even if you don't break a tooth, nobody wants to eat rocks.  Any beans will do, but baked beans are most commonly made with pinto beans.  Some people make them with navy beans.  Don't do that!  Nobody likes navy beans.  Even sailors don't like them.  But you can try small red beans or even black beans for a change of pace.   You can even use two or three different kinds of beans.  Experiment a little! 6 Strips Bacon    Use thick cut peppered bacon.  You want a smoky flavor and this is where it comes from.  So any smoked bacon will do.  We like hickory smoke on bacon.  You can also try maple syrup flavored bacon.  It adds a nice touch.  Don't obsess about this. Just use whatever is in the fridge. 1 or 2   Bison sirloin steaks    You could use any cut of beef or bison, but bison sirloin adds a wonderfully complimentary flavor to the beans. 3/4 Cup  Brown Sugar  Any brown sugar will do.  For a more rustic flavor you can try a more crude form of brown sugar. 1  Onion    Any onion will do, but for baked beans we like to use vidalia or one of the sweeter varieties.  (The sweeter varieties are usually yellow, not white.)  Don't use red onion in this recipe.  It will overpower everything else you are trying to do. 1 med.   Bell Pepper.  This pepper can be green, red, orange, whatever suits your fancy.  It should be diced up into chunks about 1/4" by 1/4".  Our preference is red peppers, your mileage may vary. 1 med.  Jalapeno    Of course you could use serrano, or habanero, or whatever you fancy.  Just make sure you cut it open and take out the veins and the seeds.  That's where the real heat is.  If its not hot enough when you're done, throw in a couple of seeds. 4 Tbs.  Apple Cider Vinegar    You could probably use just about any vinegar, but beans are rustic by nature and apple cider vinegar is about as rustic as it gets.  We like Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar.  You really add the vinegar to taste.  Start with 4 Tbs. and if, after it's cooked some, you think it needs more vinegar, add some more.  Pretty simple. 1 Cup of BBQ Sauce    Use whatever BBQ sauce makes you happy.  If you've made your own, here is a chance to use it in a new way.  Again, don't obsess, just use whatever you have. Instructions: Start the day before you need your baked beans by soaking the beans for 24 hours. After soaking, rinse them and they're ready to go.  Be sure you don't skip the rinse.  Rinsing reduces the gas problems beans are notorious for. The next day, prepare the sauce by putting the BBQ sauce, the vinegar and the sugar in a small bowl and mix together.  Don't worry if the sugar doesn't incorporate all the way.  It will when it's warmed. You'll want to dice the onion and the bell pepper into 1/4" by 1/4" pieces.  The Jalapeno you'll dice even finer.  These can be mixed in a bowl and set aside. When you're ready to cook, you'll begin by cutting the bacon into small (no more than 1/2" by 1/2" pieces)  then cut the bison steak into 1/2" by 1/2" cubes.  Put the bacon in the pan over medium heat and render the fat.  Don't cook the bacon until it's crispy, even if that's the way you normally eat it!  You just want to render the fat.  The bacon will continue to cook with the meat and the beans.  If you cook it too much at first you won't impart nearly as much flavor to the beans. Once the fat is rendered on the bacon, throw in the veggies and cook until the onions are clear.  Then add the bison steak cubes. and stir-fry until just browned.  At this point you're ready to add the sauce.  You can simmer this mixture for 5-10 minutes until the flavors start to come together and see what it needs.  If it needs more sauce, add some.  More vinegar, the same.  You can also add salt and pepper to taste at this point.  Once the sauce is flavored to your liking, add the beans. Cook this mixture on the stove for several minutes until everything starts to come together.   Then pour the mixture into a casserole dish and put in a 350 dgree oven for about 20 minutes.  You can cover the mixture with cheese, with bacon, with sausage,  or whatever you like before you put them in the over.  Or you can don't have to cover them with anything.  But be creative.  You can't make a mistake at this point. When the beans come out of the over, they're ready to go.  Enjoy!  If it turns out you're not able to eat the baked beans the day you make them, don't fret.  A day or two in the fridge will only help concentrate the flavors.  Same with leftovers.  These beans, like fine wine, get better with age (to a point, of course.)    

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