Cooking Stories

A Texas Boy’s Bean Burger

July 15, 2011
by Curt

Man do I miss stopping at Johnny Ringo’s and ordering one of their super delicious bean burgers. Growing up in San Antonio, there was a place near my buddy’s house I hung out at all the time. We would stop at Johnny Ringo’s and sit outside on the picnic table with a bean burger and fries.

So, since I can’t go back in time and have one of those, I’ve brought it to the present and have come up with my own rendition of the bean burger. Now you can make this on the stove if you’d like, but I’ve taken it to the grill. After all, this website is about smoking and grilling, right?

So, I would like to introduce:

A Texas Boy’s Bean Burger


1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1/4 cup refried beans (homemade or canned)
1 TBS picante sauce (Pace Picante – not that stuff from New York City!)
1/2 tsp cumin powder
salt and pepper to taste


Take the ground beef and make two even patties out of it. In a small bowl, combine the refried beans,  picante sauce and cumin together, and stir it all up. Put the refried beans mixture on top of one of the patties, and then lay the other patty on top of this like a sandwich. Press the edges together all the way around, until it becomes one nice big fat burger!

Fire up the grill. You’re going to want a nice hot grill, but don’t forget to keep a cool spot off to the side so you can slow down the cooking.

Take the salt and pepper, and lightly coat both sides of the burger. (Don’t get carried away now!) Using a spray oil like my favorite, canola oil, very lightly spray both surfaces of the burger to keep it from sticking to the hot grill. You can lightly brush oil on it also if you prefer that.

Time to throw it on the grill and get this show on the road! Rather than repeating what I’ve already written, take a quick jump over to my Grill Tips article, and read the section on burgers. If you’ve gotten the grill a bit too hot, then once you’ve seared the first side and thumbed the center of the second side, move the burger to the edge of the cooler spot  to slow things down a bit. This should only take about 5 minutes to get the meat cooked, and the goodies in the center all nice and warmed up. You know how well done you like your burgers, so I’ll leave the judgement and decision as to when it’s done enough up to you.

Tip:  Something I like that adds just that extra to a burger, is to lightly butter (real butter) the buns and toast them up real nice on the grill.

Alrighty! Take the burger off the grill, put it between the buns, let out a big ol’ Yeeehaaaaaw, and eat it up!

Smoking Meatloaf and a Side

July 11, 2011
by Curt

I smoked up the complete dinner Saturday. Except I didn’t smoke that cornbread. Breads are next on my list of experiments.

I got started early Saturday morning putting together the Smokin’ Hickory Meatloaf recipe, and the Smokey & Fruity Baked Beans recipe. Once I got all the slicing, dicing and mixing out of the way, it was on to get the smoker going and brought up to temperature.

Tip: It’s important to always bring your smoker to the temperature you plan to cook at before you put the meat or side dish in. You don’t want to be doing this while the foods in.

Tip: It’s also important to bring the food close to room temperature before putting it into the smoker. This will keep from the temperature dropping way off for a long time after putting it into the smoker. Just don’t forget the food safety rule of not keeping meat between 40 and 140 for more than 4 hours.

I used all hickory for this cook. I brought the smoker up to 250 degrees, and put both pans in. After only about 10 minutes, it was back up to 250 degrees, and we were smoking!

After the first 30 minutes, I opened the smoker and gave the beans a quick stir. Just to make sure things weren’t sticking. Plus I wanted to make sure the meat was holding together okay.

Tip: You don’t want to dawdle, or as we say in Texas, you don’t want to lollygag around for too long while you have the smoker opened. For more about this, read my article called “Tips for Maintaining a Fire in Your Smoker“.

After 1 hour and 15 minutes, things were looking very tasty. The beans were just lightly bubbling, and the internal temperature of the meat was up to 175 degrees.

Note: The meatloaf is actually considered done at an internal temperature of 160 degrees, but I’m not fond of pink burger, so I brought it up to 175 degrees to insure that it was fully cooked.

The next time I make this, I plan to put the rub on the top much heavier to achieve somewhat of a bark. I only lightly sprinkled it this time. Just another layer of flavor! Right?

Now, doesn’t this look mighty tasty? Let me tell you, it was! The nacho cheese flavored Doritos used instead of the standard bread crumbs to hold things together gave it an amazing taste. A real Mexican cheesy flare!

That’s it. Don’t be shy. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

Happy smoking!

Smokey & Fruity Baked Beans

July 10, 2011
by Curt

First off, let me explain a couple of things while you’re looking at this first picture of the beans before they went onto the smoker!

For the “Fruity” part of this recipe. You can use any kind of fruit you prefer for the canned pie filling, but my personal suggestions would be either apple, or peach.

You’ll also want to chop up the pieces of fruit so that they are more finely diced, rather than whole or sliced pieces. Otherwise, in my opinion, they are over-powering. But then, you can experiment with this yourself. Who knows, you might find the large chunks of fruit to be absolutely delicious!

For the rub, I like it sweet and not hot, so I use my favorite rub called “Honey Rub”. This is where you can add the heat if that’s what you and the family and friends like, and add in a spicy pepper type rub.

For the pan, I use one of those cheap disposable aluminum baking pans that you can get for 4 for a dollar at the local Dollar store. But you can use cast iron, or anything that works for ya!


2 Large 28 oz cans of Baked Beans (I use Bush’s Vegetarian)
1 cup canned pie filling
1/3 cup barbeque sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray’s)
1 Tablespoon of your favorite rub (I use Honey Rub by Butcher BBQ)
1/2 red bell pepper (seeded and chopped)
1/2 red onion (chopped)
6 strips bacon (cut into 1″ pieces)


In a skillet, fry up the bacon pieces until they’re cooked to your liking. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. (We’re trying to keep this as fat free as possible).

Now combine all the ingredients into the baking pan of your choice.

If you haven’t already gotten the smoker going, you’ll want to do that now. I use hickory wood for this baked beans recipe. I typically smoke these at a maintained temperature of 250 degrees. At this temperature, they will take about 1 to 1 1/2 hours to get bubbling hot, and marry all the flavors.

Serves 6 to 8

Tip: If you’re also smoking meat for the dinner, and you have two levels of racks in your smoker, place the pan of beans underneath the meat to catch the drippings for some delicious added flavor. (I know, so much for keeping it low fat!)

Check this out. This is what they looked like just before I removed them from the smoker. Mmmmm Mmmmmmmmmmmm!!

Smokin’ Hickory Meatloaf

July 9, 2011
by Curt

This recipe is delicious as it is, but we’re going to make it SMOKIN’!!

Okay, here we go. Let’s start with the recipe.


  • 1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 3/4 cup crushed Nacho Cheese Flavored Dorito Chips
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • your favorite rub


This is where we take a turn from the traditional meatloaf, or was that when we put the Doritos in it?

By the way, the Doritos idea was from my buddy, Glen, from work. The Dorito flavor even over-powers the smoke taste. Awesome!

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl, except for your favorite rub. In a pan appropriate for the smoker, form a rectangular shaped loaf that is 1 1/2 inches high.

Note: Looking at the picture at the top of the page, you’ll see I used a cheap (4 for a dollar type) aluminum pan that has ribs in the bottom of it. This way, the loaf still has support, but gives a place for the juices to run off and keep it from getting soggy!

Take your favorite rub, and lightly sprinkle it over the top of the loaf.

Note: I used my favorite sweet rub called “Honey Rub”. Made by Butcher BBQ. I don’t like heat, so I can’t tell you how a peppery rub will work out for you.

If you haven’t already gotten your smoker going, do that now. I use hickory wood for smoking this meatloaf recipe. Once it’s up to a temperature of 250 degrees, put the meatloaf into the smoker. Maintain a temperature of 250 degrees. At this temperature, it should be done in 1 1/4 hours.

Note: For you pink meat lovers, it should be to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F in 1 hour. I take mine out at an internal temperature of 175 degrees F to make sure it’s thoroughly cooked. This takes 1 1/4 hour.

Easily serves 6 Smokin’ Meatloaf lovers!

And here’s a shot of what it looked like just before I took it out of the smoker.