Hey everyone! John The Midwest Flatlander here.

Okay so I love bacon, and I love beans (for so many reasons), and I love grilling, so this run-on sentence really does serve a purpose, because it is hard for me to cram all of these things that I love into a simple or even compound sentence. Now that I have brutalized the English language, let's see if we can harvest some inspiration from the ramblings of this bacon-loving, bean-loving, grilling fanatic who can barely speak intelligible English. Is intelligible a word? Moving on.

Calico beans is a recipe that has become a staple in our house. The recipe is very simple and can all be placed in a crock pot and simmered all day causing the house to smell AMAZING!!! However, on the flat land we like to make the simple complex, so we are gonna put the crock pot away and go to the flatlander staple cooking appliance...the grill.  Now let's take a look at the ingredient list.

Here is the ingredient list for today's recipe:


  •  2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 package of bacon cut into small pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 big can (55oz.) and 1 large sized can (28oz) of Bush's Baked Beans
  • 1 regular sized can (15.5oz) of red beans, drained
  • 1 regular sized can (15.5oz) of great northern beans, drained
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar (you can use other sweeteners here is you like, we use a dash of stevia)
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke
  • 3 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Dash of pepper
  • Oh, the lime aid is optional, I was just a little thirsty.  Sorry

Now this recipe will work on just about any type of grill you want to use. My personal favorite is a Weber Kettle grill. You use your favorite grill. Lump charcoal is my fuel of choice, but you use what you like for this recipe. So here we go. Let's start by setting up the grill.

I'm using a Weber Kettle grill and lump charcoal.  Fill your charcoal chimney (I don't like using lighter fluid) to the top.  Pour a little vegetable oil inside of a wad of newspaper and put it in the bottom of the chimney, and light it.  When you see flames coming out of the top of the chimney, it's time to pour them into the bottom of the grill.


While you wait for the charcoal to burn, throw some wood chunks into a small container of water.  I just so happened to have an ice cream bucket.  I put 4 chunks of apple wood and 2 chunks of hickory in the water to use in this recipe.  You can use whatever wood you like.


So for indirect grilling, I pour the coals out onto one side of the grill.  I'm left-handed, so I pour the coals onto the right side of the grill as I face it.  And yes, my grill is "well seasoned" thanks for noticing.  After getting the coals placed where you want them, put the grate on the grill and let it get really hot.  Once it is good and hot, scrap it off with a grill brush and get it good and clean.


So, we've got the hot grill set up for indirect grilling and our wood chunks soaking.  Now let's break out the cast iron dutch oven.  I have a 6 quart seasoned dutch oven that I will use for this recipe.  Now, set the dutch oven on the hot side of the grill and let it get good and hot.

Now the magic begins.  Take a little butter and throw it into the dutch oven.  Let it render down into liquid and then toss in the chopped onion.


Cook the onions for just a few minutes to give them a chance to sweat.  Next add the bacon and cook it until it is to your liking.  I like mine crispy, so I cook mine longer than some.  And yes the onions continue to cook and get really happy.  Once the bacon is to your liking, add the ground beef and cook everything until the ground beef is browned.

Now that all those flavors are cooked together, add the remaining ingredients into the dutch oven and move the dutch oven to the cold side of the grill.

Stir well to ensure all ingredients are mixed together.


Take the wood chunks that have been soaking and put them on top of the hot coals.  Keep the dutch oven uncovered and on the cold side of the grill.


Cover the kettle grill with the vent holes of the lid placed directly over the open dutch oven.  Now the fun part, stand back and watch the smoke pouring out the vent holes and breathe in the most excellent smell of that hard wood smoke combined with the beans and of course the BACON.  Total smoking time is 2-3 hours or longer depending on your taste.  Feel free to stir the beans from time to time as well and work in that smoky flavor.


They're done!!!  Let's eat!!


I like to add some fire pit roasted hot dogs to my beans for a tasty meal.


Oh, and some s'mores for dessert.

Hope you enjoy this treat from the flat land.  If you are inspired to try this recipe, leave a comment and let me know what you thought of it whether you made it this way or if you added your own inspiration.

That will do it for this session.  I'll see you next time, and remember leave no trace...leave a legacy.