Smoky baked beans - without liquid smoke
September 30, 2019 12:20 PM   Subscribe

I want to make a small batch of beans to go with some BBQ meats. I have an aversion to liquid smoke (snowflaky story that I won't get into). Do any of you have a go-to recipe for smoky baked beans w/o liquid smoke? I have a small dutch oven, but no pressure cooker. Please suggest actual recipes that you have tried rather than ingredients I could add (I am not a good or confident cook).
posted by Feminazgul to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know how you feel about spicy but I can confirm that using chilies in adobo sauce gives a good smoky flavor. If you want less spicy just use some of the sauce the chilies come in without adding any of the chilies. Here's an example : Chipotle Baked Beans
posted by onebyone at 12:25 PM on September 30, 2019 [5 favorites]

I have made this. It is tasty but I would not do the pressure cooker version, unless you have some skill at beans in pressure cooker that I do not (very possible).
posted by emkelley at 12:26 PM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

Was going to suggest something with chipotle.

Can you add bits of the meat to the beans (this is the classic solution) or should they be meat free? Are you making the barbecue? Can you smoke one of the ingredients that goes into another recipe, like the onions?
posted by supercres at 12:28 PM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

Emkelley's link is good solid. Cooking the beans as usual with smoked ham hock or smoked turkey legs will get you there.

If you have access to a good smokehouse or butcher that does their own smoking in house, you can call ahead and ask them for a hock that's been 'double smoked' where they just leave it in the smoker longer than their typical length. The texture sometimes suffers, but if you're not using it as a primary ingredient in the finished dish, it's fine. I regularly purchase these to add smokey, meaty flavor to all sorts of dishes that call for them.
posted by furnace.heart at 12:40 PM on September 30, 2019 [5 favorites]

Unfortunately my recipe is to chuck in what i want to use up and expect to taste nice. For smoky I add chipotle chillies and/or smoked paprika. Amounts will unfortunately depend on your personal preferences. Paprika tends to add more depth and only mild heat. Chipotle adds more heat.
posted by koahiatamadl at 12:46 PM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

You can use anchos for smokiness without as much heat - we do that for our chili.
posted by brilliantine at 12:54 PM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

Seconding smoked paprika.
posted by Waiting for Pierce Inverarity at 1:01 PM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

Seconding furnace.heart's suggestion to toss a smoked ham hock or turkey leg (sometimes available at the meat counter of your grocery store, or in the frozen-meat section) into the beans - no adjustments needed to your favorite recipe.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:16 PM on September 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

Smoked olive oil is another good (if pricier) option. It's a delicate oil so you'd drizzle on only at the end.
posted by veery at 2:29 PM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

Hi, thanks for suggestions so far. I do not have a barbecue.

I know you all mean well, but please stick to recipes, or clearly explain how to add ingredients (if you must just suggest an ingredient). If you say something like, "just chuck a turkey leg in there" or "use smoked paprika" that leaves me unsure if I need to add extra water, or how much ingredient to add etc. As I stated in the question, I'm really not a good cook and cannot intuit these adjustments myself. I also have some issues with executive function, which I was hoping I would not have to disclose in a question about beans, but here we are.
posted by Feminazgul at 2:51 PM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

You can used smoked salt and replace half the salt in a regular recipe.
posted by advicepig at 2:59 PM on September 30, 2019

Yes, smoked paprika. I make a really good bean soup in my Instant Pot using smoked paprika and it's smoky without it being overwhelming. The good thing about using smoked paprika is that it's really easy to adjust the smokiness by adding a little more.

Try this recipe., which is for a Le Creuset dutch oven. It's really easy, just saute the onions in oil, throw in the rest of the ingredients and that's about it.
posted by essexjan at 3:02 PM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

Regarding the "chuck a ham hock/turkey leg in" suggestion, it doesn't require any other changes to whatever recipe you want to use, just put it in at the beginning so it can cook down and release the smoky flavor while the beans cook.

If your desired recipe already includes meat, substitute it with one whole smoked leg or hock - again, without any adjustments to other (non-meat) ingredients.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:07 PM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

I love this recipe; I’ve been making it for years without the bacon and it’s nice and smoky due to chipotles (and I’m sure even more so with bacon).
posted by Empidonax at 4:32 PM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

Buy some lapsang souchong (smoked Chinese tea)
Brew 2 tbsp in 1 cup of boiling water for 5 minutes. Strain and add the liquid to your beans while you cook them.
posted by ananci at 4:37 PM on September 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

For a small batch, I would follow your normal baked bean recipe and add 1/2 tsp of smoked paprika. Then I'd taste it and see what you think. If it's not smokey enough, add another 1/2 tsp. And so on.
posted by rikschell at 4:40 PM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

My go to for adding smoked flavor is firstly Liquid Smoke!! :-)

But you want other things: Smoked Paprika is good, if you think it would go with the flavor profile. I think baked beans is sweet, right? So this may not work. Similarly, Chipotle in Adobo Sauce is a good way, but this will make your dish spicy, as chipotles are made from smoking Jalapenos. You can try toasting some sweet dried pepper like Guajillo, or Ancho or Mulato. Rick Bayless showed me this in his PBS show. Toast the Chilies in a cast iron griddle on low heat till it gets smoky. Open the chili and discard the seeds and any ribs that you can. Chop and soak in water. Then you can either use the skin and water or just the water. Be careful, as this will make the kitchen really smoky.

How about using a smoked Ham Hock? This is traditionally the easy way to do it in Collard Greens, and may work here too. It will give you both smokiness and umami.

For Asian dishes, I use the toasted Sesame Oil from Chinese stores. That may work here too.
posted by indianbadger1 at 12:29 PM on October 1, 2019

nthing smoked paprika!
posted by megan_magnolia at 3:44 AM on October 6, 2019

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