Y’all need to know you almost didn’t get a picture of these spicy beans and sausage.
Why? Because somewhere along the line my well-crafted, time-tested method for making sure nobody eats my bloggable food broke down this week!
Let me tell you how that usually goes.
Usually my family knows when I am making food to blog because it takes forever to cook, because I am trying to get better at photographing the various parts of cooking. Usually when I make blog food, I put it in a whole seperate part of the fridge than their consumables. Usually I tell them not to eat the food until I give the green light (read: I took the final picture). Finally, to ensure that my food stays safe, I put a post-it note on the dish that says: “Blog food. Do not touch!”
Here’s where I went wrong.
Firstly, I didn’t take process pictures. This dish mainly happened in the crockpot and I got lazy. I had just done the fastest trip ever to Dallas (literally I went there and came back within 24 hours) so I was tired and I just didn’t feel like snapping all the steps. Then everyone in my family was tired (from that same trip) and we all went to bed pretty early. Last they saw, everything was going in the crockpot (with no pics). That also meant I didn’t get a chance to tell them this was blog food. Then to seal the deal, I hastily stuck the food in a container and shoved it in the fridge, mixed in with their consumables but WITHOUT a post-it.
So yeah. This almost didn’t happen.
I get home the day I want to photo this dish and there is approximately one bowlful of the stuff left. One. Uno. Solo.
I’m going to assume that means the fam liked it.
Now you may be wondering why I am making spicy beans and sausage in the summer. And that would be a valid question. Because that seems more like a winter thing, right?
Well, of all the summer recipes I get requests for, I think baked beans is among the top ones. You. Guys. Want. Baked. Beans.
And here’s the deal. Baked beans are a pretty easy sub. You can use sugar substitute along with brown sugar substitute and it should all work great. But personally I don’t like that idea. I don’t like sugar subs in baked beans and so I resolutely refuse to make them that way. If I want some baked beans, I’ll have a few tablespoons-ful of the real stuff and keep it moving. I know that’s not possible for some of you and for you I would invite you to explore Pinterest for recipes because much as I love you all…I’m not willing to get saddled with a whole batch of artificially sweetened baked beans.
But I got to thinking about the concept and decided…why do the beans have to be sweet?
I mean I like the idea of having a bean side dish that’s hot at a barbecue, but what if we explored another flavor profile? So I have been chewing on that thought for a long while but it all came together in Dallas.
To the Foodie who suggested I eat at Hard 8 BBQ…I am forever indebted to you! That place is awesome. I got me some ribs that were “slap yo momma” good! Now what does that have to do with anything? Welllll…one of the features at this place was all-you-can eat beans. Spicy beans. Spicy beans with sausage.
BINGO!!! Now we’re cooking with gas!
So immediately I get off the plane from Dallas and go to procure the ingredients I believe will yield a nice, spicy bean side dish. (Yes, I literally did do that straight off the plane.) I wasn’t trying to replicate their recipe (and I don’t think these taste like theirs at all) but they did inspire me to play with my food!
This stuff was sooooo easy to make and uses ingredients most of us can find at the grocery store. Best of all, it yields that nice, thick consistency of baked beans with all the lusciousness! I intended it as a side for other dinner stuff but the fam clearly liked it as a standalone. Whatevs. I don’t dictate their appetites!
But let’s talk for a moment about happy accidents.
So after all the hoopla of making the recipe, photographing what was left of it, and yadda…I finally sit down to my little portion. I noticed in the fridge I had some tomatoes and jalapeno left over so I decided to make some salsa. Not necessarily for the beans but because I’ve been letting way too many fruits and veggies go home to glory in my fridge so I wanted to make it while I was on a prepping/cooking kick.
Now here’s the thing. If I was trying to make salsa, it would have come out ok. I make a decent fresh salsa. But precisely because I was not trying, and despite the fact that I didn’t even have all the proper ingredients in their proper proportions, of course it was the best damn salsa I’ve ever made.
I mean literally. I had 1.75 just-starting-to-be-mushy tomatoes. I had 1/4 of an onion. I had garlic “of a certain age” (read: I maybe should have planted it instead of eating it), half a lime and no cilantro. But I went in, hoping for the best. I mixed it all and added some McCormick Mexican spice and a generous dash of salt and…HOT DAMN! That was right-decent salsa. I’m going to try it again that way and see if I can replicate the love. Probably not. These occurrences are once in a lifetime, I think. I would say it was a loaves and fishes moment, but that’s probably inappropriate so I will just say…my little batch of salsa came out really tasty.
And so there you have it. My answer to the baked bean conundrum. So next time you go to a barbecue and you want a hot bean side dish, give this a try. It yields enough for you to have some and to share with others but you won’t be eating leftovers forever, which is good. Because we don’t even want to talk about what my house is going to smell like tonight.
After all, this is a food blog!