One recipe I get asked about a lot is my Cowboy Beans. This recipe is tricky because it is based off a family recipe, and the original recipe has lots of pork in it. Why is that an issue?
Several years ago, our family made the decision to eat a Biblical diet. So, we eat only food according to the list in the Bible in Leviticus 11. So that means pork sausage, bacon, chops, etc are not in our diet. Honestly, for me, this was not a terrible hardship to give up. I never really liked pork, so no big deal. Except, I soon realized that there is pork in a lot of my recipes and in a lot of foods I used to buy. Who knew?
So, what to do? How to make those family favorites and not use pork? That was the question. My friends said to use turkey, instead.
But I think turkey tastes like nothing. It has no flavor. I tried using turkey sausage and turkey bacon. They just seemed yucky. Then I was making this very recipe, cowboy beans and I got an idea. This recipe calls for bacon, ground beef, and ground sausage. I realized that if I mixed the turkey with the beef and added my own seasonings it tasted much better. So, before I share how I make my cowboy beans, I will share how I make my own sausage mix.
5 lbs. of fresh ground beef
5 lbs. of fresh ground turkey
3 TBS sage, 1 TBS black pepper, 2 TBS salt
(sometimes I add other spices, onion, garlic, rosemary, clove, etc. but not always)
I found the trick to making sausage is sage. By mixing the beef and turkey together it gives the turkey a richer flavor.
So, then what about bacon. I really don’t like bacon of any kind that much. Ok, I guess that isn’t true I do like good grass fed, beef bacon. But that is rarely in my budget. The problem was turkey bacon looks gross and tastes gross.
Meat processors make turkey bacon from the ground up turkey and flavor it to taste like bacon. Ground up dark meat is layered on ground up light meat, and the product is kind of like turkey sausage. These layers of different shades of meat, using ground turkey, allow the processors to add in as little or as much fat as they like.
This is how most turkey bacon you buy at your local grocer is made. Here is a picture.
But I did a little more research and I found there is another way to make turkey bacon. It is by cutting and layering the pieces of turkey together. The way to know if your bacon is ground or chopped is the way it looks. If it is a solid reddish color it is ground into a paste and formed. If it looks more pink and marbled it is chopped and layered.
Here is a picture:
Honestly, I don’t care to eat even this kind of bacon by itself, but for recipe purposes, it works really well. So, now here is my modified family recipe of Cowboy Beans, sometimes called Calico Beans.
1 lb beef or turkey bacon (cooked and crumbled)
1 lb beef/turkey sausage mix
1 large can bush’s vegetarian baked beans
1 large can kidney beans (drained)
1 large can pinto beans (drained)
1 large can butter beans (drained)
1 bag frozed lima beans
1/2 cup ketchup
1 cup sugar (brown or white)
2 TBS white vinegar
1 TBS molasses
1 white onion(I puree it for my family)
garlic powder, celery salt, ground mustard, salt and pepper to taste
( I cook the meat on the stove top and if we are going to eat soon, I cook everything on the stove top. But if we are eating later, I put it all in the crockpot on high for two hours, then turn to low until ready to eat.)
Like all my recipes, I play around with this recipe and use what is in the cupboard. If I don’t have the right beans, I just use what I have. Or if I have no ketchup, but do have BBQ sauce. I will use it. I also double or triple the recipe, but not the meat just the beans. This saves a lot of money.