Even though this is a fall/winter dish, whenever I eat it, I can’t help but ruminate on family cookouts when I was a kid. The luscious barbecue spice–infused beans bring back memories of swimming, wrestling with my cousins, and playing video games in between bites of potato salad, baked beans, and other family favorites. The finger-licking barbecue carrots in this dish are a standout on their own, but their interplay with the beans is outstanding. I suggest adding vinegary pikliz or Memphis Coleslaw to brighten each bite, but you can add any number of pickled vegetables for this purpose. Serve this with a thick, toasted slice of country bread for mopping up the saucy elements of the dish and balancing the intensely-flavored carrots and beans.
8 (4-ounce) carrots, trimmed and peeled
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons BBQ Seasoning
1 cup great northern beans, picked over and soaked in water with 1 tablespoon salt overnight
1 (2-inch) piece kombu
1 large white onion, halved: half kept intact, half finely diced
5 garlic cloves: 3 kept whole, 2 minced
1 dried red chile
1¼ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup chopped canned tomatoes, with their juices
1 tablespoon Bragg Liquid Aminos
1 (3-inch) rosemary sprig
1 bay leaf
Pikliz , for garnish
Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper
Toasted country bread, for serving
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Spread the carrots out in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet. Rub with 2 tablespoons of the oil, followed by 4 tablespoons of the BBQ seasoning. Cover the baking sheet tightly with aluminum foil and bake until the carrots are super tender, about 2 hours.
While the carrots slow-roast, cook the beans: Drain the beans and pour them into a medium saucepan or Dutch oven. Cover them with 3 inches of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium and add the kombu, onion half, peeled garlic cloves, and chile. Partially cover and simmer until just tender, 1 to 1½ hours. When the beans are 10 minutes from being done, add 1 teaspoon of the salt and simmer for another 10 minutes. Drain the beans, reserving 3 cups of the cooking liquid. Remove the kombu, onion, garlic, and chile, and discard.
While the beans are cooking, warm the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the diced onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and ¼ teaspoon of the salt and cook until the garlic smells fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and remaining 1 tablespoon BBQ seasoning and cook, stirring often, until the paste begins to stick to the bottom of the pan, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and liquid aminos, bring to a simmer, and continue to cook, stirring often until the mixture is dark red and thick, about 5 minutes.
Return the drained beans to their pot and scrape in the contents of the skillet. Add the reserved cooking liquid, rosemary, and bay leaf and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the beans are very flavorful and the sauce has thickened, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
Once the carrots have become super tender, remove them from the oven and increase the temperature to 450°F. Uncover the carrots and carefully flip each over. When the oven is hot, bake the carrots until sizzling and caramelized all over, flipping the carrots and rotating the baking sheet as needed, 7 to 10 minutes.
To serve, ladle the beans into four bowls. Top each bowl with two carrots, and garnish with pikliz and scallions. Season with salt and pepper to taste and pass the toasted country bread.