Loaves and Dishes

Wendi Spraker

Once upon a time, Mr. Loaves and Dishes exclaimed loudly, “I just love Lulu’s Cowboy Beans”, at the restaurant here in Danbury. He always orders a bowl and laps it down if they have any.

For sure, those beans are good, slightly sweet, tangy and meaty. But I just couldn’t have my own husband out getting his beans from the neighboring restaurant, could I? People might start to talk!

That sent me on a quest to develop the very best Cowboy Baked Beans I could. What makes a Bean a Cowboy anyway? Does it wear a little 10 gallon hat and ride a tiny horse?

In thumbing through hundreds of “Cowboy” style recipes, the one thing I see in common is beef. Much like those beefy “Cowboy” calendars that I see in my Facebook feed. You know the ones, scantily clad cowboys holding kittens or petting a horse.

Well, they say there are kittens and horses in the photo too, I’m not sure I believe it.

Before I get too far off into the weeds and require a Cowboy to save me, I’ll just get to the recipe. This is my answer to Cowboy Baked Beans and believe me, they are perfect for your Memorial Day weekend celebrations. You will be the rock star with these beans.

Please use the specific ingredients listed. The B&M Beans are essential. The beer is very important to the flavor and the alcohol is completely burned off while cooking (that part of the recipe smells bad too – unless you like the smell of cooking beer). That said, if you just cannot abide by having beer in your recipe, use chicken stock instead – but it won’t be quite as good. You can find single beers of this type at Ingles in Walnut Cove.

This recipe is an intermediate level recipe, you have to cook to make it. You don’t have to be the next TV Iron chef, but you do have to have some kitchen skills. If you need help, just hollar at me and I’ll give you the best advice I can.

You can reach me at wendi(at sign)loavesanddishes.net. If you want to see the recipe with photos you can visit www.loavesanddishes.net and use the search bar to look for Cowboy Baked Beans.

With that, wishing you and yours a Happy Memorial Day and offering a Thank you to those Veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that I may remain free. I am humbled by you.



2 – 12 ounce bottle of pale ale – I used Fat Tire Pale Ale

½ pound Applewood Smoked Bacon – chopped

1 large sweet onion – like Vidalia

1 medium jalapeno – diced small

½ cup green onion

1 lbs ground beef – 80/20

4 cloves minced garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

2 16 oz jars B&M Original Baked Beans – do not drain

2 16 oz cans Black Beans – drained

1 16 oz can Great Northern Beans – or Cannellini Beans – drained

1 4 oz can chopped green chilies – drained.

1 Cup sweet red thick Barbecue sauce – like Sweet Baby Rays

¾ Cup Ketchup

¾ Cup molasses

¾ cup dark brown sugar – packed

3 tablespoons of good quality dijon mustard

2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

2 Tbs worcestershire sauce

1 Tbs hot sauce Tabasco – like Texas Pete or Cholulas.

¼ tsp chili powder

¼ tsp chipotle chili powder

1 Tbs garlic powder

1 tsp dried thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

Green onion for garnish


In a heavy pan (like an iron skillet), bring the beer to a boil and allow to boil at medium high until it is reduced by half. Pour into a large bowl and allow to cool.

Move the oven rack to the bottom two rungs and preheat to 350. Lightly grease a deep 9×13 baking dish. (Alternately, you can use two smaller baking dishes or even a couple of cast iron skillets)

In the same iron skillet you reduced the beer in, cook the bacon pieces over medium heat till crispy. Remove the pieces and drain on a towel but reserve the bacon fat. Add the onion and cook until tender and translucent. Add in the chopped jalapeno and the green onions and saute for about a minute. Add in the hamburger and brown until just past pink. Add in the minced garlic and cook one more minute. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

In the large bowl where the beer reduction is cooling, combine all of the beans and the chopped green chilis. Stir well and season with salt and pepper to taste – yep, that means taste it. Add in your hamburger and veggie mix and mix well. Make sure to add any of the juices that have accumulated in the frying pan.

Add in the barbecue sauce, ketchup, molasses, brown sugar, mustard, apple cider vinegar, worcestershire sauce, tabasco, chili powder, garlic powder, thyme. Mix well. Taste and then add salt and pepper to taste again.

Bake in oven at 350 until thickened and bubbling throughout (check at an hour and 10 minutes) recheck every 5 minutes until bubbling through. When done, allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with green onion.


Wendi Spraker