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I have never made baked beans in my life so be gentle. I used the find feature and many of the recipes called for bacon, burnt ends or some sort of meat dripping into the beans.

This is for a small get together (4 people) but this is a test run for bigger events. The only meat I could use is chicken or turkey. I suspect the meat is used to infuse flavor into the beans.

Some of my silly ideas. (All separate ideas not all at the same time)

Smoke the beans with a (raw) turkey neck bone in the dish.
Smoke the beans with a whole chicken above it in the smoker.
Smoke the beans with some store bought chicken sausage in it.

Any ideas? What do you caterers do for those non meat eating customers?


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I would leave out the meat, but if you want to add some, go with the chicken sausage and pre cook it thoroughly.

Your other ideas will both lead to food poisoning, so don't even think about it unless you're trying to kill someone.

As for non meat eating customers, if your Que is good, there won't be any! Big Grin
Just leave the meat out, not extra fat (bacon grease/bacon options?)

Otherwise, just smoke them. They key to great beans is to smoke them.

Beans is such a simple concept, feel free to do whatever you need and have fun with it.

No bean recipe is sacred, in fact, no two bean recipes the same.
You know somethings going on if you're standing beside the smoker, and there's a mixed group of folks standing "over there", and then another group of men having a good time standing over beside a pickup truck with the tool box in the bed open. Hmmmmmm.... Maybe I'll go stand over there for a while and get away from the heat...... Cool
A pot of pinto beans, flavored with onions, garlic, and a bit of green chile are fine eating and served with many entrees here in NM. Meat helps, but is not necessary.

If you start with canned pinto beams, saute a chopped onion and a couple of mooshed garlic cloves in vegetable oil over medium heat until the onion is translucent, probably 3 to 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup chopped green chile, 1/4 tsp cumin seed, 1/4 tsp mexican oregano, and cook for a couple of minutes or until you can smell the toasted cumin. Then dump in two cans (15.5 oz size) of pinto beans and add 1/2 tsp kosher salt. Bring to a simmer. Then transfer this to the smoker and smoke for an hour or so. If at any time you need to add liquid, add vegetable broth. Taste and add salt if necessary.

The time in the smoker will add smoke flavor, but not cook the beans, which are essentially edible after they have been brought to a simmer. By heating the beans up before you put them in the smoker, you are ensuring that the thermal mass of the beans does not pull the smoker temperature down, and that they do not linger in the danger zone.

Meat fat helps the flavor of most everything, particularly beans, but you can make an acceptable pot of beans without meat fat. It is harder though.

If you want to start from dry beans, let me know. I have a recipe for that as well.

Or you could just buy a couple of cans of your favorite vegetarian baked beans from the store, heat it up in a pot and put it in the smoker for an hour or so to get the smoke flavor. Adding some maple syrup, sorghum syrup, or Kentucky Bourbon to the mix helps. All three are based on vegetables, so should be acceptable to vegetarians.

If you want sweeter baked beans, you can use a couple of

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