Where There’s Smoke, There’s Flavor

Colorado cookbook author Eliza Cross's latest book 101 Things To Do With a Smoker features simple recipes for smoking everything from pulled pork to pumpkin pie
101 Things To Do With A Smoker Cover 1

Photos courtesy of Eliza Cross

During the pandemic when some people were buying Pelotons and puzzles, Eliza Cross ordered a Camp Chef pellet grill and began learning a new way of cooking. “I started by smoking simple things like pork roasts, pans of bacon, and pizzas,” Cross says. “It seemed like everything cooked in the smoker had such amazing flavor, and soon I was experimenting with things like smoked Cheez-it crackers and green olives. Then I branched out to recipes like brown butter chocolate chip cookies and peach bourbon upside-down cake.”

The result is a new 128 page cookbook, 101 Things To Do With a Smoker (Gibbs Smith, publisher), featuring a wide array of recipes for breakfasts, sandwiches, appetizers, snacks, sides, salads, dinners, and desserts. The book also includes recipes for rubs, brines and sauces, plus helpful hints and a resources section with more books on the topic for readers who want to dive deeper into smoking.

Cross says the recipes are all simple to make with commonly available ingredients. “My goal was to make smoking approachable and easy for home cooks,” she says. “With the right equipment and a great recipe, the cooking process is no more difficult than cooking on a grill or stovetop. The kiss of wood-fired flavor is a wonderful compliment to so many dishes, and I always encourage readers to do their own experimenting and make these recipes their own.” 

These Smoky Baked Beans with Bacon cooked in a large cast iron skillet are perfect for summer parties and Father’s Day gatherings.

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Smoky Baked Beans with Bacon

You’ll love the flavor of these tasty baked beans, featuring a full pound of crispy bacon, molasses, barbecue sauce, brown sugar, jalapenos, onions and seasonings. Smoked and slow cooked in a cast iron skillet, they’re the perfect side dish for cookouts, barbecues and family gatherings. 

  • 1 pound thick-sliced smoked bacon, chopped 
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 large jalapenos, seeded and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 cans (15 ounces) baked beans
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup beer (or substitute beef broth)
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat smoker and add wood following manufacturer’s instructions. Heat to 225 degrees F.

In a large cast-iron skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat on the stovetop until brown and crispy. Use a slotted spoon to transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon drippings. Add the onion and cook over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the jalapenos and garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the beans, barbecue sauce, brown sugar, beer, molasses, ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and bacon. Stir until combined thoroughly.

Place uncovered skillet in smoker, close lid, and smoke until beans are hot and bubbling, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Stir beans every 30 minutes, adding water if they become dry. Cool for 10 minutes and add salt and pepper to taste. 6 servings.

From 101 Things to Do With a Smoker by Eliza Cross (Gibbs Smith, 2023), used with permission.

Categories: Recipes