The Pepper Alton Brown Uses For Unbeatable Baked Beans

Alton Brown
Alton Brown - Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Baked beans make a great side dish for cookouts, pairing particularly well with succulent barbecue. They also are a favorite on a big breakfast plate alongside fried sausage and bacon. Or, maybe you enjoy the British classic, baked beans on toast. Regardless of how and when you eat baked beans, if you want to cook a batch of amazing baked beans, you may want to take a leaf out of Alton Brown's book and add jalapeño peppers to your recipe.

On his website, Brown shared his recipe for baked beans, which includes a hint of spice thanks to jalapeño peppers. "This application riffs on pork-and-beans and classic Boston baked beans," says Brown. It still has the sweet flavors that baked beans are known for, but is balanced with the heat from the spicy pepper, adding a complexity to the dish. Brown complements the jalapeños with a bit of molasses and adds just a smidge more fire with cayenne pepper as well.

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Why Jalapeños Are A Great Addition To Baked Beans

Bowl of baked beans
Bowl of baked beans - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

Alton Brown uses two chopped and seeded jalapeños per pound of dried beans in his baked beans recipe. This adds just enough spice without overpowering the baked beans and turning it into a fiery dish. You can always adjust this amount to your preferences. He cooks them in bacon fat, alongside onions, to give them some extra flavor and help them release their aromatics and spice. It only takes about five minutes, and then he adds the remaining ingredients.

Besides giving your baked beans a little something spicy, jalapeños also impart a unique flavor profile. For their part, jalapeños have a taste that's similar to green bell peppers -- they're earthy and grassy with a slightly bitter finish. More mature jalapeños can also bring sweet notes that pair perfectly with the sugar in baked beans.

It's important to note here that you'll be using fresh jalapeños if you want to follow Brown's lead. Pickled jalapeños, which are a jarred variety that's common in supermarkets, don't have the same flavor profile but instead introduce briny, vinegar notes, and heat that won't work the same way in your baked beans.

Other Ways To Give Your Baked Beans A Bit Of Spice

Pile of fresh jalapeños
Pile of fresh jalapeños - HestiRahayu/Shutterstock

Jalapeños are easy to find, but if you're not a fan of their flavor or want to branch out and try something new, there are a few alternatives. Serrano peppers are a good option, and have a similar flavor to jalapeños, although you should note that they're hotter. The serrano pepper's Scoville rating starts at 10,000 -- which is some 2,000 units spicier than jalapeños.

Fresno peppers have a very similar flavor and sit right around the same heat level as jalapeños. You can swap them in a 1-to-1 ratio and don't have to worry about adding too much fire. Or, if you like pepper flavor without the heat, poblano peppers are milder but still have that earthiness.

You can also use cayenne peppers as a replacement, although these are a whopping 12 times hotter than jalapeños. Still, since Brown adds a bit of cayenne pepper powder to his baked beans, this is a great choice for enhancing the flavor profile of your dish. Just use them sparingly. With these picks, you've now got a few options for upgrading everybody's favorite baked beans recipe.

Read the original article on Daily Meal