Dutch oven beans were a chuck wagon staple. Cowboying on a cattle drive was shift work. The cows needed to be watched 24 hours a day, so there were forever hands riding into camp, looking for some quick grub and a quick nap before climbing back into the saddle and going back to work. Doctored up Dutch oven campfire beans were the perfect thing to keep stewing in a Dutch Oven on coals from the campfire. They’re hardy enough to make a filling meal (especially if there was some leftover cornbread or soda bread floating around) and when the pot runs low, ol’ Cooky just adds more to it!
This modern adaptation remains hardy enough to make a meal from but uses a good many modern conveniences in the way of ingredients. Cooky could only dream of having it this good!
Experiment with combinations and ratios of types of beans until you find what you like, then stick with it.
By the way –
Here’s our favorite Dutch Oven.
And here’s the best way to clean it.
- 4 strips thick sliced bacon
- 1 lb. loose spiced sausage (pork, beef, venison – whatever you’ve got)
- ½ large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ large can of favorite baked beans
- 4-6 standard sized cans of beans, rinsed and drained (black beans, Northern beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, chili beans, etc.)
- 2 cups ketchup
- 2 cups BBQ sauce (use your favorite, use as much as you like)
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- Salt (to taste)
- Black pepper (to taste)
- Hot sauce (to taste)
- Water (as needed)
- Heat Dutch Oven to medium high heat over campfire or coals.
- Fry bacon until it just begins to crisp. Remove and set aside leaving bacon grease in Dutch Oven.
- Add the sausage to brown. As it fries, use a spatula to chop the meat and prevent it from forming big lumps. You’re looking for a fine chop so that you’ll get meat in every spoonful of beans.
- When meat is about halfway browned add chopped onions.
- Just as burger is finishing add minced garlic and fry for one more minute until burger is nicely browned.
- Add all remaining ingredients including crumbled bacon pieces. Stir well and bring mixture to a simmer.
- Add water as needed and stir.
- Bring to low boil, cover and move to low heat area of the campfire to simmer.
- Don’t let anyone even open the lid for at least an hour. As long as you check it once in awhile to make sure it’s not boiling dry, it can stew for hours and hours. The longer you go the softer the beans will get and the better it will taste.
- If you’re fortunate enough to have a second Dutch Oven, whip up a batch of biscuits or cornbread. When it’s done, ring the dinner bell and get out of the way!