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Ranch Beans Recipe

Take the Dutch oven outdoors and perfect this Ranch Beans recipe, an American West classic.

| July/August 2011

  • Ranch Beans
    These Ranch Beans are of the kind created to keep cowboys hale and hearty on the trail.
    Karen Keb

  • Ranch Beans

Campfire cooking is rooted in the American West. Hone your skill starting with this Ranch Beans recipe.

Ranch Beans

1 pound side pork or bacon, coarsely chopped
2 pounds pinto beans, soaked overnight and rinsed
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 1⁄2 cups packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt 

In cast-iron Dutch oven, sauté pork. Add beans, onion, garlic, paprika, mustard, brown sugar and salt. Cover with water by about 3 inches, and bring to vigorous boil over fire.

Dig a hole wider and deeper than your Dutch oven. Line the hole with stones so the oven will fit, but with some room on the sides and above it.

Build a hot fire in the hole and keep it roaring for an hour. Rake out most of the embers.

Place your covered and filled Dutch oven in the hole. Lay ashes on top of the lid, then fill the hole and top with embers. Let beans cook for 5 to 8 hours, checking every hour or so for water level (add more if drying out) and tenderness. When beans are soft, remove from fire and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

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