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A bean without a bacon is sadly incomplete, though, and a copy of a Pennsylvania Dutch cookbook yielded a smokehouse recipe for curing pork. Casual experiments with adding everything but the pig and the salt to a pot of beans have paid off. Bacon is cured with sugar, sweet spices, and pepper, so I add judicious amounts of those seasonings, a careful drop or two of smoke seasoning, and extra fat, usually olive oil with perhaps a bit of butter if I want a really down home feeling. A dab of peanut butter reminds the palette of Virginia ham.
Sometimes I use chopped pork shoulder seasoned with the basics in a dish of greens, and I have found that chicken thighs brined in sugar rather than salt and seasoned as if they were bacon or ham approach the real thing on the barbeque.