For barbecue and grilling enthusiasts, baked beans are a go-to side dish. While homemade, from-scratch recipes and canned baked beans are both solid choices, enhancing them with additional seasonings can elevate the flavor and make the dish your house specialty. Alongside onions, herbs, and mustard, adding a splash or two of bourbon can bring out the natural sweetness of the beans, providing a flavorful twist to this classic barbecue accompaniment. Among all the choices in the whiskey family, bourbon is the perfect American spirit pairing for baked beans with the right sweetness and lack of tannins due to its unique aging process.
Bourbon's rich caramel and vanilla notes — which are derived from aging mostly corn mash in uncharred oak barrels — add depth and warmth to the sweet and savory profile of baked beans, and that marries well with the brown sugar or molasses sweetener the beans are cooked in. The oaky undertones present in many bourbons further enhance the overall flavor profile, providing a delightful contrast to the sweetness of the beans.
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When Bourbon Meets Beans
We've got loads of ideas for you to choose from when it comes to picking the right recipe for baked beans. From slow-cooker style to lower-sugar style, any baked bean recipe can be enhanced with a pour of bourbon. If you mix the bourbon into the bean mixture early on, much of the aromatic bite of the alcohol will cook off, leaving just the background flavors of the spirit. Adding the bourbon closer to the end of cooking will result in a more boozy taste, so consider the end result when adding the alcohol.
When selecting which bourbon to add, it's practical to use what you already have. If you enjoy sipping bourbon, chances are, you'll like its flavor in your cooked food as well. If you're purchasing a bottle specifically for the beans, keep in mind that the distinct flavors will blend with other ingredients, so a low to moderately-priced bottle is enough to get the job done. Reserve the higher-end bourbon for enjoying alongside your beans and barbecue.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.