I love fall, I really do. (Have I mentioned that about a hundred times yet?) But sometimes I can't let go of summer, not everything anyway. I love BBQ year round. Like, especially under a couple of feet of snow. That's when it is the BEST. Of course, you can't exactly go outside and whip out the grill, so what do you do? Well, if you're me, you use your slow cooker and you improvise.
And let me just say, I am not a particularly big fan of baked beans. In fact, prior to this recipe (adapted from The Best Baked Beans Ever from Pioneer Woman), I have never had any I truly liked. But these? Oh wow. She's not kidding when she says they're the best, you guys. So how do you manage this tastebud explosion? I'll tell you how.
First, the essentials:
For the pork, you'll just simply put the pork shoulder in the slow cooker and add the water. It's just enough water to keep it moist, you're not making soup here. Then add the spices to the top. I dropped a dash or two of hot sauce onto the top as well. Then you'll slow cook it all day. I think mine was in there around 6 hours. The longer it's in there, the better it gets. When you're just about ready to eat, go in with two forks and pull it all apart and mix it in with the juices it's created. If you like, add a dash of apple cider vinegar and any other seasonings you like to finish it off.
For the coleslaw, shred your cabbage and carrots and put them into a bowl. Mix with enough mayo just to get everything covered, but not goopy. You don't want to be eating spoonfuls of mayo here. If you have an aversion to mayo, you could just go for an oil & vinegar dressing, it would totally be as good. Add the seasoning salt and poppy seeds as needed. I like the seeds for some crunch in there, you don't have to add them. We like our coleslaw to be savory, especially when you're eating it with sweet pulled pork and sweet baked beans. It balances it all out.
Now, the beans. Oh those beans! First you need to deal with your bacon. Here's the thing, we're using the bacon in the baking of the beans, but you don't want to have a layer of bacon grease over the top of your beans so we need to render the fat. Fry your bacon until the fat is rendered, then set aside. Do not make it crispy please! Leave the bacon fat in the pan, and if it's not too much, you can use it for the next step. If there is too much, empty some out, but leave about a tablespoon. Saute your onion and green pepper until they are clear and softened, about 10 minutes. Then add in a can of pinto beans, drained of their canning liquid, and let them cook just a few minutes. While they're working their magic in the pan, assemble your sauce. BBQ sauce of your choosing, ketchup if you want (we didn't have any so I skipped it, but it would be totally good), hot sauce, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar & mustard. I used yellow mustard and it was BOMB. The original recipe called for dijon and I'm sure that's great too. Mix & stir into the beans. Then you'll take this whole glorious mess and put it in a baking dish, put those slices of bacon on top, and bake that thing for 2 hours at 325. Low and slow, that's the idea behind BBQ.
There you have it! Assemble and serve. Sit back and wait for everyone to praise you. You deserve it!