We needed a new recipe for meaty beans here at the ranch. Being in New Mexico, we have numerous recipes for New Mexican style beans, Texas Tex-Mex beans, Arizona Sonoran beans, northern Nevada Basque beans and even New England style beans. What we wanted now, though, was something to celebrate the southeastern part of the country - the Carolinas. I am totally in love with Carolina barbecue and the vinegar-based sauce (or, as they call it, "dip") that goes along with it. We wanted beans that would not only act as a side dish to Carolina barbecue, but that could eat as a meal in itself, accompanied by a crusty loaf of bread. I am not usually a fan of canned beans of any sort, but in this case, they do a fine job...not to mention simplifying and shortening the process. —WileyP
kosher salt and pepper to season
slices applewood smoked bacon, 1/4 inch dinced
large red onion, 1/4 inch diced
medium jalapeños, seeded and minced
medium cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
freshly cracked black pepper
apple cider vinegar, plus more to adjust seasoning
Place the flank steak in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Dice it into 1/4" pieces and sprinkle on a little kosher salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a large Dutch oven (preferably cast iron or enameled cast iron) over medium-high heat, render the bacon until just starting to crisp, 6 to 7 minutes, stirring as needed. Remove 1 Tablespoon of the bacon drippings and set aside. Add the onions and jalapeños and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes more. Add in the garlic, salt and pepper and stir/cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove everything from the pot to a medium bowl. Set aside.
Wipe down the inside of the pot. Add the reserved 1 Tablespoon bacon fat and, when it is nice and hot, add in 1/3 to 1/2 of the steak and cook, stirring as needed until just starting to brown, about 8 minutes. Remove to the vegetable bowl, repeat with the remaining steak.
Once the steak is cooked, deglaze the Dutch oven with 1 Tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Return all the vegetables and cooked steak back into the pot. Add in the beans, molasses, brown sugar, soy sauce and ketchup, stirring gently to combine. Bring the pot to a simmer over low heat. Cover and cook for 2 hours, stirring every 20 to 30 minutes to assure that the bottom doesn't stick. If needed, add in more apple cider vinegar, a tablespoon at a time to personal taste. The sauce should not tast heavily of vinegar, but there should be just a little hint of it there. Serve with crusty bread for a hearty meal or as a side dish.