Pork Lover' s Baked Beans
As kids, we used to pick through the canned pork and beans scouting for the promised pork, which usually presented itself as a small pale cube of fat. One. We invite you to try the meaty version below that gets a triple blast of porky goodness from smoked pork shoulder (feel free to substitute rib meat), a ham hock, and bacon. We’ve also added applesauce and a shot of bourbon to up the flavor ante.
- 1 pound dried beans such as red kidney or chili beans, pinto beans, navy beans, frijoles Colorados, or pink beans
- 3 strips bacon, diced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 cups water, plus more as needed
- 2 pounds pork shoulder, smoked at a previous grill session, cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1 meaty ham hock, smoked at a previous grill session, or more pork shoulder
- 1 cup Traeger Regular Barbecue Sauce or ketchup
- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, or more to taste
- 1/4 cup prepared mustard
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 to 2 tablespoons bourbon (optional)
When ready to cook, start the Traeger grill on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes). Set the temperature to 300 degrees F and preheat, lid closed, for 10 to 15 minutes. Put a cold Dutch oven on the stovetop and add the bacon. Turn the heat to medium low and sauté the bacon, stirring occasionally, until it begins to render its fat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent. Add the 6 cups of water and the beans, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Bury the pork shoulder and ham hock in the beans so they are covered with liquid. Put a lid on the Dutch oven and carefully transfer it to the grill grate. Bake the beans for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Add the barbecue sauce, applesauce, brown sugar, and mustard. Recover the pot and continue to cook for 3 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally and adding more water if needed to keep the beans from drying out, until the beans are tender but not falling apart. (Remove the lid from the pot if the sauce needs thickening.) Retrieve the pork chunks and ham hock from the beans and shred or dice into bite-size pieces, discarding any bones, fat, skin, etc. Stir the meat back into the pot along with the bourbon, if using, and add salt and pepper to taste. Continue to bake for a few more minutes to reheat the meat.