Fellow Seattle author Cynthia Nims cooks her sauce in a saucepan and then uses it to lacquer ribs or barbecued chicken. I love how it translates into a dish of baked beans.
3 tablespoons neutral oil
1 cup finely chopped onion (medium-size or large yellow onion)
2 tablespoons minced garlic (from about 5 cloves)
1 1⁄2 pounds fresh plums
1⁄4 cup molasses
1⁄4 cup tomato paste
1⁄4 cup brown sugar
1⁄4 cup red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of your favorite medium-heat chile pepper
3 15-ounce cans pinto and/or kidney beans, rinsed and drained (or 2 cups dried beans, cooked)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9x13 baking dish by lightly brushing the bottom and sides with oil or oil spray.
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes, being careful not to burn it.
Cut the plums in half, remove the pits and coarsely chop. Place the pitted plums, molasses, tomato paste and vinegar in a food processor or stand blender, and process until pureed. Add the brown sugar, the salt and ground chile pepper and blend once more.
Transfer the sauce to a mixing bowl and add the beans and the cooked onion-garlic mixture. Pour everything in prepared dish and bake for 1 hour, or until bubbly. The beans should keep moist while they cook; cover with foil if necessary.
Makes 6 to 8 side-dish servings.