Like a lot of great dishes, this was made from what was on-hand during a camping trip. Pork and beans is a camping staple, but they always need a little help. These were punched up a bit with some smoky bacon, onions, chilies, and Worcestershire sauce. The “red eye” comes from a nice blast of strong coffee. Red eye gravy is a Southern staple that is made from deglazing a pan with coffee after frying up some of pork whether it’s a chop, bacon, or a slice of ham.
These beans are easily adaptable to the oven. Prepare as directed and transfer to a 2-quart baking dish or prepare in an oven-proof skillet. Place on foil lined baking sheet and transfer to preheated to a 400°F oven.
NOTE: This can all be made in the skillet, but it gets pretty close to overflowing. It’s better to combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl as directed and transfer back to the skillet.
Red Eye Grillin’ Beans
makes 10 servings
8 ounces applewood smoked bacon, chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 Anaheim chile or medium green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cup strong coffee
2 cans (28 oz.) pork and beans
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
5 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 jalapeño pepper
Cook the bacon in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high direct heat long enough to the render fat from the bacon, but not crispy. With a slotted spoon, remove bacon to large mixing bowl. Add the diced onion and Anaheim chile to the skillet and saute in bacon grease until soft. Add the coffee to the pan and scrape up any browned bits. Transfer to the mixing bowl with the bacon and stir to combine with the remaining ingredients, except the jalapeño. Transfer back into the skillet. Leaving the stem intact, slice the jalapeño in fourths (so it stays together) and push it down into the beans. Place the skillet back over the heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Slide the skillet over to the indirect side of the grill, close the grill cover and cook for 30 to 40 minutes or until the beans have somewhat thickened. Remove from heat and serve hot or at room temperature.
Cheers and Happy Grilling!