BBQ Beans with Burnt Ends, Jalapeño Corn Muffins and Guajillo Honey

Getting a healthy, delicious dinner on the table every day is hard enough as it is.  Kids, work, school.. you know how it is.  Add in a bad economy and a generally broken food system, though, and it becomes well nigh impossible.

Inspired by the Hunger Awareness Blog Project between the Capitol Area Food Bank and the Austin Food Bloggers Alliance, I put this BBQ Beans with Burnt Ends dish together with an eye towards simplicity, flavor, nutritional density and cost.. no exotic ingredients, equipment or technique are necessary.

Meet the deep, rich and smoky flavors of BBQ Beans with Burnt ends..

BBQ Beans with Burnt Ends, Jalapeño Corn Muffins and Guajillo Honey

For the Beans

1/2 pound (8oz) dried pinto beans (substitute 2 15oz cans)
1/2 pound burnt ends (smoked brisket, flank steak or whatever you can get your hands on), chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
4 cups filtered water (less if using canned beans)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon lard (try Dai Due in Austin, or use bacon grease (optional, but not as good without)
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped (substitute 1 small can chopped tomatoes)
1 tablespoon whole cumin
1-1/2 cups Texas-style BBQ sauce (homemade, Stubb’s, Salt Lick, or whatever you like)
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 fresh jalapeños, chopped (can use less or none at all if serving to little kids or scaredy cats)
1 tablespoon chili powder

Soak dried beans overnight in a quart of cool, clean water.  Drain the beans, rinse and place into a large saucepan with 4 cups of fresh water (or the liquid from 2 cans plus 1-1/2 cups fresh water).  Bring to a rapid boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Add everything except the tomatoes, cover and simmer for 1 hour.  Add the tomatoes, taste for salt and continue to simmer until both the beans and meat are tender, about another hour.

For the Corn Muffins

5 oz cornmeal
2 oz organic, all-purpose flour
1 oz stone-ground yellow corn grits (adds a nice texture; if not available, simply increase the cornmeal by 1 oz)
1 oz piloncillo or honey (optional)
2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh milk
2 large eggs
4 oz butter (1 stick), melted
1/2 cup corn kernels (optional)
1 or 2 jalapeños, seeded and diced (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Combine the cornmeal, flour, grits, piloncillo, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.  In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and butter.  Slowly whisk the flour mixture into the milk mixture until just combined.  Fold in the corn, jalapeños and cilantro if using.

Pour the batter into a greased muffin tin, cast iron skillet or bread pan and bake in a 350 degree oven to the usual golden brown/toothpick state, about 25-30 minutes for muffins, longer for skillet or bread pan.

Guajillo Butter

1/2 stick butter, softened
1 tablespoon guajillo, local wild flower or just plain honey

Stir honey into softened butter (add a pinch of salt if using unsalted butter), then chill until ready to use.

To Serve

Transfer cooked beans to a cazuela or casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees until a crust forms (about 20 minutes; this is an optional but recommended step).  Spoon the beans into individual serving dishes and top with minced onion and cilantro if you like. Serve with hot corn muffins and honey butter.


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