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Beans by the seat of my pants - a big hit

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    Beans by the seat of my pants - a big hit

    I was planning to smoke St. Louis ribs for Memorial Day, and I decided to do beans, too. I also smoked some homemade lamb sausage. But the the beans stole the show. Amazing considering I have never done beans on the smoker before and I just made it up as I went along. (I know there are recipes on this site, but it didn't occur to me until after the fact. Sometimes I'm just slow. Also, I'm kicking myself for not once thinking to take a picture of it until all was done, put away, and cleaned up. Maybe one of these days I'll get my act together.)

    I'll describe here as best I can what I did. I can tell you that the result was spectacular. My grumpy father-in-law even asked if he could take some home with home - knocked me out of my chair. Said it reminded him of when his dad used to take them to Loves BBQ. I sent him home with 4 quart jars.

    My Smoke Hollow 44" propane smoker is the perfect width for chafing dishes - the kind caterers use for serving food. So last evening about 5:00 I put a couple pounds of mixed pinto and white navy beans in a 4" chafing dish and soaked them overnight. This morning I drained and rinsed them, and added 3 chopped onions, a green bell pepper and 2 jalapenos from the garden, 3 chopped carrots, a handful of brown sugar and roughly a tablespoon each of salt, paprika, and cumin. I lightly browned a pound of bacon ends in a skillet then chopped it up and added it. A quart of homemade chicken stock and a splash of apple cider vinegar, then enough water to cover everything thoroughly. Oh, and about a tablespoon of minced garlic. By sometime between 7-8 a.m. that chafing dish was covered and on the bottom rack of the smoker. Ambient temp above the dish was around 225, so I'm sure the bottom of the dish was much warmer. I checked occasionally, and it was at a slow bubbling boil with about 30 minutes.

    While I was getting the ribs and sausage ready, I let the beans cook covered, stirring them a couple times an hour. Around 11 a.m I uncovered the beans when I put the ribs (dry-brined and rubbed with something pretty close to Meathead's Memphis Dust) on the rack right above the beans. At the same time I hung the sausages at the top of the cabinet. And in the smoke pan I put some chunks of peach wood that I pruned from my tree several months ago.

    I continued to stir the beans occasionally while the drippings rained down from the ribs and sausage. Around 2 p.m. I spooned out a small bowl of the beans for testing, and I knew it was going to be good. I didn't add a single thing - not even more water the whole time. The sausage was done around 3:00 and I took the ribs and beans off about 4:30.

    The sausage would have been better if I'd put them on later - they were cold by the time we ate. The ribs were good but not great - some parts excellent and some parts overdone. But the beans were amazing. Soft but not mushy. Perfect flavor profile - seasonings just right without overpowering the beans. The liquid thickened up nicely without getting too dry. I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to repeat what I did, but boy is it fun to hit it just right even if it is dumb luck. I'm guessing we had about 2.5 gallons total - plenty of leftovers for us and father-in-law.

    Thanks for letting me share.

    It's always very satisfying when you knock one out of the park. If your grumpy father in law asked for more that's a good thing. If he's alway grumpy I would have sent him home with a pint, not 4 quarts.



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