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Jul 17, 2012 01:41 PM

BBQ places and canned baked beans

What say you about this at a BBQ place? I think I've decided it's a deal breaker. I've experienced it twice at otherwise really good BBQ places. One was Bayport BBQ, where I found everything other than this and the pulled pork about as good as it gets in MN. The beans could have been awesome--there were big chunks of really tasty meat, but other than that, blatantly Bush's/supermarket tasting. Yuck.

I make baked beans from scratch at home all the time, so I know it's a simple, inexpensive thing to do with great results. Beans are cheap. They don't suffer from production in volume. The process isn't labor intensive. There are a million great recipes. They keep well. Why not make them from scratch and give them a signature? Or, at the very least, doctor them enough that they're not so obviously canned? Even dumping in some other bean would help, because those perfectly uniform nondescript beans in goopy, overly sweet but otherwise flavorless sauce are a dead giveaway.

So, in a roundabout way, Bayport BBQ thumbs up but a demerit for their beans.

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  1. Well I guess beans are really the thing I don't mind scraping off my plate at BBQ places. I go for the meat. If I can find wonderful meat, I will go and support them. I frequently find sides at BBQ places weak. I don't go there for them. If I want beans I'll make them myself. I don't have the interest/skills in cooking good BBQ, so I look for this at BBQ pits and enjoy it for that. I also get slices of white bread at BBQ places, I keep going even if I throw this away too.

    1. Baker's Ribs in Eden Prairie make their own beans and they are so tasty. Their Texas style BBQ rocks too.

      9 Replies
      1. re: suburban_mom

        Bakers uses canned beans. I've seen the large commercial food service cans stacked on dunnage racks by the bathrooms. I even made note of this fact in me Yelp review of their place.

        I have the same complaint -- Why would you buy beans when you can make them for half the cost... That's like an immediate 50% profit... But instead these yo-yo's insist on buying cans, and often doing *nothin* to them. Lame. Waste of my money.

        As far as Jack Stack in KC is concerned, they're the real deal. They start with dried beans and work the recipe up from there... Including sitting in the smoker below the smoking meats... OMG are they good.

        1. re: s4zando

          Canned beans *are* cheaper. It's not just the raw materials -- it's picking through dried beans, soaking them, assembling the other ingredients, and cooking them. That's a lot more labor than just opening a can and tossing it in a pan or a pot.

          And I suspect that most customers of rib places -- who are not posting on CH -- either can't tell the difference or don't care about it. If that's the case, why spend the money?

          1. re: steve_in_stpaul

            Why spend the money? Because you (as a restauranteur) should give a sh!t about what you sell. Craft a recipe of your own, spend the time, money and adjust the sale price. You should care about putting a quality product out there for sale. If YOU don't care, then why should I? Consequently why should I spend my hard earned money at your establishment?

            I have plenty of options for my food-dollars. I choose quality over quantity. I choose care over don't-care. I choose smiles over frowns. I choose service over mediocrity.

            Your attitude explains the existence and success of TGIFridays and Olive Garden.

            Would you like another bread stick with that?

            1. re: s4zando

              Every few weeks, I have lunch with a bunch of guys who really don't like to spend more than $6-7 bucks for lunch. I'm fine spending more than that, but they're not. Charging an extra buck for "real" beans likely would put your restaurant out of contention for our group. They just don't care that much.

              And we're assuming that your efforts differentiate your beans from the run-of-the-mill stuff anyway. I just got done reading a thread here that poked at Tilia (I think) for creating a french-fry dipping sauce (read: spending the money) that was not an improvement over ketchup. Money wasted...

              Call it what you will, but there are many more folks like my friends than there are us 'hounds. Is there value in providing a product people don't care enough to pay for?

              1. re: steve_in_stpaul

                There's McDonalds and there's Burger Jones. They both sell hamburgers and shakes. Which is better? (hint: there's no *right* answer)

                You're right, some people aren't going to go to a more expensive restaurant and aren't going to pay more. Some people don't find quality worth it and are more fond of quantity. I understand that and I'm OK with that.

                Splatgirl's initial message in this thread asked about quality.

                So what torques me is restaurants that (try to) pass off canned beans (or doctored canned beans) as homemade. They may not say "homemade" on the menu, but they certainly give you that impression - Meanwhile they are storing dunnage racks of cans in back...

                There's cheap BBQ and really good BBQ. Really good costs money. But it's really good.

                If you've never been, I'd highly suggest you take a weekend trip to KC and give Jack Stack (among many others) a try. However if you want to experience a BBQ baked bean that is out of this world, Fiorello's Jack Stack is the king.

                1. re: s4zando

                  Fair enough (you're right about McD's & BJs, BTW).

                  I lived in KC a few decades ago but did not often partake of the BBQ. We get down there every now and then; I'll put Jack Stack on the must-go list.

                  1. re: steve_in_stpaul

                    If it's beans, Jack Stack may be king. But for the actual meats, it ranks about fifth of my list. Oklahoma Joe's, Arthur Bryant's, Gates, and LC's all produce a better BBQ product, but I can't attest to the beans. When I go out for BBQ, I'm all about the meat and don't care that much about sides.

                    1. re: Db Cooper

                      Last time we were in KC, we stopped at Bryant's because Mrs. Sisp wanted to try it. I had the burnt ends. I was not impressed. Maybe it was an off day there; maybe I've killed too many tastebuds with pepper sauce over time, but based on that visit I think Lee & Dee's (and a couple of the other good rib joints in town) can serve BBQ as good as Bryant's.

          2. re: s4zando

            Well, all I can say is they are really good at doctoring their canned beans. They aren't your average beans although much less spicy than when they opened about 18 years ago.

        2. This sounds like my complaint with french fries at burger places. How hard is it to hand-cut fries instead of using disgusting frozen crap?

          I will say this about canned baked beans -- I took a cue from KC BBQ joint Jack Stack and the last time I smoked a pork shoulder, I put a couple of cans of baked beans in a pot and threw them in the smoker under the meat for 2-3 hours. Holy crap those were some great beans.

          I'm not implying Jack Stack uses canned beans (I have no clue), just that the technique turns canned baked beans into something really great.

          Now...question back at you splatgirl....are there any places in the Twin Cities doing it right? (And thanks to suburban_mom for the Baker's input).

          5 Replies
          1. re: MSPD

            I'm gonna bet that was a pretty good pork shoulder too since the sauce from the beans would humidify the pork. I can't eat beans myself without fear of nuclear fall-out in my trousers, but I cook them often in the same manner you mention MSPD when I'm smoking meat as others obviously love them. You always want a water pan under your choice of meat, but a pan full of beans will give you the same effect. The humidity keeps the meat moist and that moisture is vitally important to getting your smoke to penetrate the meat. Plus the drippings from your pork help season the beans along with the smoke. You are really killing three birds with one stone. Excellent advice.

            1. re: Db Cooper

              Yep, it is possible to make standard canned beans absolutely awesome using this method while smoking meat. And as you stated, it acts as a sort of water pan, adding a layer of humidity to the smoker.

            2. re: MSPD

              You know, I've been to Bakers at least half a dozen times but not in the past couple of years, so I can't remember the beans. That probably means they weren't blatantly canned. I am not crazy about their meats, though it will do in a pinch.
              I remember years ago Famous Daves beans were great.
              I'm not even that particular, just that they be well prepared vs. ready-to-eat canned served as same.
              I guess I am a total package kind of girl. I like variety from bite to bite. A plate full of just good or even great meat isn't enough to win me over. The meat has to be great, obviously, but the rest--specifically for me that is beans and slaw, bonus points for cornbread and potato things--has to at least show thought and effort.
              At this point I'd say Q Fanatic and Bayport BBQ top my list for meat. I need to go back to Bayport BBQ a few times to choose between those two, but I'll say that it would already be my hands down winner if the beans didn't suck so bad.

              I just ate about the best ribs and brsket I've ever had at a place in Gillette, WY, and every one of the sides I tried were fantastic. That's how it should be.

              1. re: splatgirl

                Do you remember the name of that place in Gillette? I stopped at the filthieast McDonalds I've ever seen on my life before camping out for the night at Keyhole State Park on the way back from Glacier last Halloween. The whole town seemed to be shut down and McD's was the only place to find a bite to eat....

                1. re: KC612

                  Pokeys. Of course I have no idea how it compares to any of the other BBQ available there, but it was the best I've had anywhere in a long time, possibly ever.

            3. I saw this happening at the Rack Shack. I don't think it's an absolute deal breaker for me. But they lose major points just on the principle. It's really a turn off, for the reasons already noted.

              1 Reply
              1. re: galewskj

                I don't bother with Rack Shack sides anymore. I just get a pound or so of their Pull' Pork to go and supply my own sides.

              2. I was recently at Bayport BBQ but I didn't try the beans. Sorry. my $0.02 though - I thought the place was just okay - the ribs were pretty bad - fatty, slide off the bone, greasy - just overcooked or sat too long in foil. I don't like mushy meat from a bbq place. I thought their brisket was okay, although also a little "wet." Not juicy, but "wet." I thought maybe this was potentially reheated by steaming (a trick I use at home for my leftover bbq). I was there for lunch on a Sunday so I don't rule out this possibility.

                I did have some creamed corn that was pretty great. Actually it was the best thing there.

                I'm actually surprised about the idea of canned beans. I didn't expect so many places to be using them since making beans is, like another poster said, relatively easy. Does Bayport for sure use canned beans or is it your best educated guess? I'm not doubting you, I'm just wondering.

                Btw, the water pan in the smoker is used to regulate the temperature throughout the smoke, not add moisture to the meat. I've smoked plenty of meat with and without a water pan and the moisture content of the meat is no different either way. Moisture is mostly due to a low smoke of a nice fatty piece of meat. The connective tissues and collagen break down making the meat moist. Smoke too long or too high and you risk drying the meat out (with or without the water pan).

                Putting beans under the meat is a great idea for catching the drippings but not to actually flavor the meat.

                2 Replies
                1. re: tyrus

                  I'm saying canned with certainty although admittedly I did not ask or attempt to spy in their pantry. I can spot and taste processed food from the next state over. And I quit buying those very same prepared baked beans about seven years ago when they got to the point that the flavorless snot-textured gravy was impossible to cover up with doctoring.

                  OTOH, as I said my experience with the ribs and brisket was pleasant and without any of the detractors that you speak of.

                  1. re: splatgirl

                    Thanks. I'll have to try it again when the place is a bit busier and the product is being turned over faster. I liked the atmosphere and I also like BBQ...