Beer Baked Beans and Tom Joad Finds the Friendly People

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“They walked away through the sleeping camp. In front of one tent a low fitful fire burned, and a woman watched a kettle that cooked early breakfast. The smell of the cooking beans was strong and fine. ‘Like to have a plate a them,’ Tom said politely as they went by. The woman smiled. ‘They ain’t done or you’d be welcome,’ she said. ‘Come aroun’ in the daybreak.’ ‘Thank you, ma’am,'”

There is something fine and delicious about the smell of baking beans…

Beer Baked Beans 

2 bags pinto beans soaked in cold water over night

2 cups chicken stock (I just threw in a Maggi chicken cube)

4 bay leaves

2 medium onions

4 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled

4 cloves of garlic

A bottle of medium to dark beer (I used Magic Hat’s Black and Night Stout – because it was all I had in the fridge)


Dijon Mustard

Brown Sugar

Cayenne Pepper

Drain the overnight water from the beans and put them in a pot with enough fresh water to cover them for boiling.  Quarter one of the onions and add it to the pan with the bay leaves.  Boil the beans for at least half an hour or until they are tender to your liking.  Drain the water, reserving a cup or two, and discard the onion and bay leaves.  Mix the rest of your ingredients – this is very similar to the barbecue sauce I made the same night, so don’t ask me for precise measurements, it’s all “to taste.”  Bake the beans at 350 for 40 minutes to an hour and serve to any stranger who happens along and looks hungry.

In the past I’ve always gone for the canned pinto beans but the dry beans are so much tastier!  I don’t know why I balked at the idea of soaking them overnight.  It’s no trouble at all and the results are both cheaper and far more amazing than the canned beans I made earlier.

A note about sauteed escarole.  I heated some garlic in some olive oil before adding the escarole to the pan.  You have to rinse it first, but make sure it’s totally dried before you try to saute it.  The excess water made it steam as well as fry and it was a little slimier than I’d have liked it. The Parmesan helped and it wasn’t bad, but I would either leave it to air dry a while or wipe it down before cooking in the future.



Filed under Books, Cheaper Cooking, Cooking and Reading, Food, Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck, Literature, Recipes, The Great Depression

2 responses to “Beer Baked Beans and Tom Joad Finds the Friendly People

  1. I use canned beans when I want a dish at the last minute but dried beans not only have a better texture but cost much less. I’m sure your baked beans were great…I’ll try adding a beer the next time I prepare them.

  2. I’m definitely hooked on dry beans. The difference isn’t just in the flavor, it’s more like the difference between pasta cooked al dente and cooked to death. Thanks for sharing and please let me know what kind of beer you experiment with, when you get around to it. I’ve tried ambers and pale ales with this recipe as well, but I think I liked this dark lager best.

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