Itís easy to think of good meats and poultry to grill when having friends over for a summer barbecue, but exciting or new side dishes can sometimes be hard to find; many of us resort to our old standbys, which are certainly good, but by the end of summer, they can get a little mundane.† This new barbecue bean recipe is perfect to serve next time you have guests over since it makes a large amount and actual hands-on preparation time is minimal.† Another bonus is that these beans can be made several days ahead, refrigerated in the slow cooker container, then brought to room temperature and gently reheated on low.† The hot sausage gives the beans just a slight bit of spiciness, which compliments the sweet and sour barbecue sauce.†
Since these beans contain plenty of meat, they can also be served as a main dish, needing only salad and bread for a complete and easy meal.††
Sweet and Spicy Slow Cooker Barbecue Beans
1/2††††† pound thick bacon, chopped
1††††††††† medium onion, chopped
1††††††††† green bell pepper, chopped
1††††††††† clove garlic, minced
4††††††††† Hot Italian Sausage, casings removed
1††††††††† cup ham, diced
2††††††††† 15 oz. can pork and beans in tomato sauce
1††††††††† 15 oz. can butter beans
1††††††††† 15 oz. can pinto beans
1††††††††† 15 oz. can garbanzo beans
2††††††††† 8 oz. cans tomato sauce
2/3††††† cup brown sugar
2††††††††† teaspoons dry mustard
1††††††††† tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2††††† teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2††††† teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1††††††††† teaspoon liquid smoke
Cook the bacon in a large skillet until crisp; remove the bacon to paper towels to drain.† Pour all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat from the pan and sautť the onions, green pepper, and garlic until slightly limp.† Transfer to a 2 1/2 to 3 quart slow cooker.
Brown the hot Italian sausage in the same skillet, breaking up the pieces; add the ham and stir, then transfer to the slow cooker.
Pour most of the sauce from the top of the pork and beans off, and remove the piece of fat; pour the beans into the slow cooker.† Drain and rinse the remaining beans and add to the slow cooker.† Add the drained bacon pieces and remaining ingredients and stir.† Cover and cook on low for four to six hours or high 2-3 hours.† If there is too much liquid in the pot, set the lid slightly off the slow cooker, turn to high, and let cook until some of the liquid evaporates.