Monday, February 11, 2019

Cowboy Beans

Welcome to winter in the Black Hills!

Our warm weather from last week is a dim memory. We are in the middle of a cold snap that makes the Polar Vortex old news. Our temperatures have been hovering around zero degrees since last Monday, and this week it doesn't look like we'll get higher than the mid-20's.

We see our neighborhood herd of deer a lot more often in this kind of weather. I took this picture from my office window the other day. There is plenty of food for them in the creek bed behind our house, and we often see the six or seven does making their way through, browsing on the shrubs that line the banks.

Another thing that winter brings are carry-in dinners at church. While we get together for picnics, hikes, and bike rides during the warmer months, winter is the time for fellowship and sharing yummy dishes.

For our dinner yesterday, I made Cowboy Beans.

What are Cowboy Beans? Well, you start with ground beef...

Cowboy Beans

2 pounds ground beef, browned
6-8 slices thick cut bacon, cooked (or 1 cup ham, diced)
1 medium onion, diced
6 teaspoons garlic powder
4 cans beans, your choice (suggestions below)
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/3 cup molasses
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional, but worth it!)
1 Tablespoon prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
2 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup water

There are a lot of ingredients in this recipe, aren't there? But you can add or subtract as you need to. Use what you have in your pantry and have fun! But keep the flavors smoky, spicy, and a little bit sweet. :-)

Oh, and the beans? I used 2 cans of small red beans, 1 can of white kidney beans (cannellini), and 1 can of black beans. But you can use what you want: pinto beans, kidney beans, etc. Mix and match!

You can throw all these ingredients into your crock pot and cook for several hours (4-6 hours on high, 8-10 on low,) or you can start out with your Instant Pot. I cooked the mixture at high pressure for 10 minutes, then let the pot do the natural pressure release, then I switched to slow cooker mode until we were ready to eat.

The carry-in dinner was a success, and so were the Cowboy Beans!

At least they must have been. They disappeared quickly!

There's nothing like a nice hot dish to warm up a winter afternoon!
How is winter going where you are?

Jan Drexler lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband and growing family. When she isn't writing, she loves hiking in the Hills or satisfying her cross stitch addiction. 
You can find Jan on Facebook, Jan Drexler, author, or her website, Jan


  1. Jan, this is an interesting mix of ingredients. Like a mix of chili and baked beans. With the molasses, and depending on what type of barbecue sauce you use, I could see where it would lean toward sweet. With some heat, of course. Hmm... I may need to ponder this one.

    1. The sweet with the heat makes an interesting combination, but a good one. Kind of like salted caramel...the combination gives you something unexpected.

      It reminds me of jalapeno jelly. I never thought I'd like it, but you pour a jar over a block of cream's heaven slathered on a cracker!

  2. Yum! These sound so good! I was thinking of making something with ground beef tonight. May have to try this!

    1. I wish we had leftovers! But we're going with potato soup tonight. Single digit temperatures call for soup. :-)

  3. My grandma would have called this a "Stick-to-your-ribs" kind of dinner... And tonight, potato soup??? A favorite for me! I love chowders, they are so stinkin' good. They make me smile just thinking about them.

    And I like that mix of savory and sweet...

    I did Brie en Crote for Superbowl Sunday with nuts and jam and it was so good...

    And I bet it would be wonderful with the jalapeno jelly...

    I do like cooking in the winter way more than summer. Summer cooking gets thrown on the grill because there's just so much to do...

    And only so many hours to do it!