When you prepare lots of wild game, the meat is always the center of attention – unless you also prepare this wildly flavorful smoked bean side dish that steals the show. Whenever bacon gets paired with bourbon, maple syrup, and a stint in the smoker, the results are bound to be epic. And they are.
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 2 to 3 hours Serves: 8 to 10
2 pounds thick-sliced bacon
20-ounce can baked beans
15-ounce can great northern beans
15-ounce can black beans
15-ounce can red kidney beans
15-ounce can pinto beans
1 large onion (chopped)
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1/2 cup real maple syrup
1 to 2 shots bourbon (plus one for you)
Coarse ground pepper to taste
Drain and rinse the canned beans (or prepare and soak dried beans if you prefer). Empty the beans into a large cast-iron Dutch oven or heavy-duty foil pan suitable for putting on your smoker grill or campfire.
Roughly chop the bacon and cook until crispy. A cast-iron skillet is preferred for this step. Drain off the fat before adding the bacon to the beans, but make sure you reserve some of the grease for caramelizing the onions. Saute the onions in the bacon fat until slightly soft and translucent.
Cook & Smoke:
Mix everything together and cook/smoke at roughly 225 degrees Fahrenheit for two to three hours. If you’re smoking a brisket, hind quarter, or any other wild game, just add this to the smoker for the final few hours.
If you’re out on a hunt, this dish can be premixed at home. Just dump it into a Dutch oven and heat it over a nice campfire. Leave the top off the Dutch oven for a rich, smoky flavor. And don’t – ever – skimp on the bacon. For those with zippier tastes, adding a few diced jalapenos will kick up these beans a serious notch.
We like to use our wild boar bacon because it has a deeper flavor that some folks don’t find as appealing on its own. But it excels in this dish. Of course, you can also use regular bacon, venison, or other wild game bacon. Heck, if you want to make it a whole meal on its own, brown a pound of wild game meat and add it to your dish. Voila! You’ve got a one-pot wonder.
Serve this with our smoked venison brisket for a meal that is sure to please BBQ lovers and hunters alike. Besides, it’s just as easy to add this pan of beans to the Camp Chef pellet grill while other meats are doing their thing in the smoke.