When my wife was researching our family history, she told me about a unique cooking method her grandfather employed while working in the mines in Nevada. He and his mining friends would fill a hole with hot coals and a covered pot of beans. When they came home at night the beans were ready for dinner. They called it bean-hole beans. Having learned a little at Boy Scouts about dutch oven cooking (Thanks, Brother Patterson), I decided to see if I could repeat bean hole beans using a dutch oven but with a twist. While living in Georgia I started making a variation on southern red beans and rice, which includes kidney beans, smoked sausage, a ham hock, and spices. I put this into a dutch oven and then put it into a hole we’d prepared with coals and then covered with dirt. That was Saturday at 8pm. The next day after church we anxiously uncovered our dinner. It turned out great, with one small exception. In the process of uncovering the dutch oven, we had opened the lid a bit and some coals fell into the food. I remembered the youtube video I had seen on bean hole beans and how they had wrapped their dutch ovens with aluminum foil before putting them into the ground. That may be the way to go, or you might find another approach, but no matter what, find a way to keep that lid closed!
Here is the recipe I used:
First, soak 1 pound of red or kidney beans several hours and then drain and rinse.
Put them with the following ingredients into a dutch oven (or a crockpot if you don’t want to cook underground)
1 large onion, 1 green pepper, and several garlic cloves, sauteed
1 ham hock
1 smoked or Andouille sausage, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon dried sage
1 tablespoon dried parsley
Additional salt to taste (sausage and ham hock can bring quite a bit of saltiness already)
If you do cook underground, you’ll need a lot of coals and a large hole. The key here is to cook it for a long time so that the flavors from the sausage and ham hock can work their way into the beans. If done right, it can be a really delicious, rich meal. For more info, see some of the many instructional videos on “Bean Hole Beans” on youtube.com.