Smoked Seitan Butt and Green Beans

Pork is somewhat of a mystery meat to me. In fact, until as recently as last week, I went around proclaiming I’ve never eaten pork in my life. I wasn’t raised vegetarian, or Jewish, or Muslim, we simply didn’t eat a wide variety of meats when I was growing up. All I really remember ever eating is ground beef, chicken, fish sticks, hot dogs, and Steak-Ums. My favorite was ham, but I only got that at my grandmother’s. Now, I know pork comes from pigs and ham comes from pigs, but still I don’t know if ham is a subset of pork or vice versa or what, and frankly, I don’t care to know. All I knew is my family at no time ever served me anything and called it “pork”, and as I became vegetarian at 15, I figured I’d never eaten it.

But then last weekend my mother told me that she and my aunt had made Smoked Butt and Green Beans, a family recipe she made from time to time when I was growing up, for my dad Saturday night, and it turns out that the “butt” is actually “pork butt”. So I guess I have eaten pork. I can remember laughing at the name of the meal when I was a kid and asking why it was called “butt” and my parents telling me it was the butt of the pig and me not believing them. Talk about avoiding the issue of where your food comes from! I thought someone was just being silly when they named the meal. I’ve always been an animal lover and I’m not sure I would have wanted to eat it if I had really thought it was an animal’s butt, but on the other hand, I was far from being a picky eater and loved meat as much as any other food until I started thinking about things more thoroughly. My mom recently transcribed parts of my baby book and apparently at even at three months, baby Renae ate “everything”.

Anyway, my mom included the recipe for Smoked Butt And Green Beans in her email with the note, “I guess you can’t really veganize it.” A-ha! Challenge alert! At first I wasn’t too interested in trying to veganize it because it’s so simple that much of the flavor must come from the “butt” and not only do I not care to eat stuff that tastes like meat, but I honestly haven’t the faintest idea what smoked butt or any type of pork tastes like. I do remember eating it, but no particular memory of the taste comes to mind. But then I found myself with some leftover seitan and some green beans for which I had no other plans, and I know that Smark likes smoky flavors, so I started thinking maybe I would veganize that recipe after all.

The important thing here, I think, is not to think you’re really eating pork or anything that tastes remotely like pork. I have no idea what pork tastes like, so all I tried to do was give it a smoky edge, even though my mom says smoked butt doesn’t taste that smoky to her and if it did, she wouldn’t like it. Other than that, the name, “Smoked Butt” is appropriate because the leftover chunk of seitan I had really did look like the butt of some seitan!

The original recipe, which my mother got from her mother, is thus:

1 peck green beans
5 lbs. potatoes (cut in pieces)
1 (2 lb.) smoked pork butt (cut in 1/4s)
1 onion
salt & pepper
2 tsp. sugar per lb. green beans

Put green beans and butt in large pot with onion, salt, pepper, and sugar. Cook on slow boil for about 4 hours. Add potatoes, bring to a boil again; and then cook on a slow boil for another 1/2 hours or until potatoes are done.

Pretty simple, eh? Well, enough blabbing from me: on with the veganizing! Choose your seitan wisely for this one. Because it’s such a simple recipe, pick a flavorful rather than bland seitan. Vegan Dad’s Veggie Lunch Meat or Everyday Dish’s Corned Beef would be good, and Bryanna’s Soy and Seitan “Ham” (about 2/3 of the way down the page) is a logical choice. Who cares if what you choose tastes like or is supposed to taste like pork though? Just pick something you like the taste of.

Here’s what I did:

8 cups vegan “chicken” broth
6 drops stevia or 2 tsp sugar
1-2 tsp liquid smoke
3 Tbsp vegan “bacon bits”
1 pound green beans, trimmed and either chopped or frenched (I frenched them because I’m fancy, and also I thought they’d cook faster that way…and because I have a nifty bean slicer that I like to give an occasional workout)
1 pound seitan, sliced somewhat thickly
1 pound potatoes, chopped (or not, if you use peewees like I did)
1 onion, sliced
salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste

Put the broth into a large pot or Dutch oven and begin heating. Meanwhile, fry the seitan slices in a bit of oil.

Drain on a paper towel and when cool enough to touch, rip up into bite-sized pieces.

Trim the green beans …

… and either french-cut them or chop them into 2″ pieces:

(my bean slicer is fun)

Add the bacon bits, liquid smoke, stevia or sugar, seitan, green beans, onions, salt, and pepper to the broth and bring to a boil.

Cover and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for half an hour. Add the potatoes and continue to simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are done.

To serve, remove solid pieces with a slotted spoon.

I think I probably could have gotten away with throwing everything including the potatoes into the pot and just cooking for half an hour, maybe 45 minutes if I had chopped instead of frenched the green beans. I don’t know why the green beans cook for four whole hours in the original recipe. I also could have doubled the green beans; they were my favorite part. (Mark’s favorite part was the seitan.) I have to say that I wasn’t expecting much from this recipe. I mostly did it just for kicks, because my mother said I probably couldn’t, and figuring that even if it was turned out really boring, we could just put hot sauce on it: everything is good with hot sauce on it. It turned out pretty well, though. Mark really liked it and ate two bowls-full, then drank the leftover liquid out of his bowl. It’s a great way to use up leftover seitan and I’d make it again. I might add baby carrots next time; I bet that would be a good addition.

By the way, I googled “what does pork taste like?” as a research attempt before starting this meal and learned that it apparently tastes like human. Um, gross?

At any rate, smoked seitan butt is very metal!


  1. Alexis Said,

    August 19, 2008 @ 11:01 pm

    This looks really good, actually. Homestyle vegan!

  2. Veronica Said,

    August 19, 2008 @ 11:18 pm

    Tastes like “human?” Why human? I don’t know how reassuring it is that someone feels knowledgable enough about the taste of human to make that comparison.

    In any case, nice work on “veganizing the unveganizable” – looks like good comfort food!

  3. VeganCowGirl Said,

    August 20, 2008 @ 1:12 am

    That is some good looking ‘butt’. Looks amazing, and thanks for the step by step recipe.


  4. Mom Said,

    August 20, 2008 @ 8:18 am

    I think you probably had bacon before. I used to make pork chops with some sort of glaze in an electric frying pan. I was just telling Lynn about the cute 1 lb. canned hams that I used to buy, and how they could make a substitute for the smoked butt if they still make them. I just remembered that one time Grandmother and Granddaddy tricked us into having deer meat, which appeared to be just a regular roast beef.

  5. renae Said,

    August 20, 2008 @ 11:09 am

    I don’t know, Mum, this pork chop story of yours sounds “fishy”. I don’t remember EVER eating pork chops; I don’t even know what a pork chop looks like. Also, you GLAZED something? In a specialty piece of kitchen equipment? None of this sounds like you. Was this before you were married?

    And are you trying to tell me I’ve eaten deer meat?!? BAD GRANDMOTHER AND GRANDDADDY. That actually sounds vaguely familiar, though. I seem to have blocked out any memory of actually eating it, but I do remember some sort of talk about deer and you not being particularly happy about it. I probably didn’t believe people really eat deer.

    No one ever told me bacon was pork. The only time I ever heard the word “pork” mentioned in our house was Dad ranting about government pork.

    Veronica, I don’t know what’s up with the human/pork comparisons, but it’s all I saw when I went searching for what pork tastes like!

    VeganCowGirl, I like your blog!

  6. Jennifer Said,

    August 20, 2008 @ 11:15 am

    This is such a great post! Not only is it a fun recipe and awesome that you met a veganizing challenge, but I love all the family lore you’ve included. I also love reading your Mom’s comments and your response to her. Too cute!

  7. Mom Said,

    August 20, 2008 @ 11:57 am

    Ha! I just decided to dig into my recipe boxes and guess what I found – a recipe for Barbecued Pork Chops! I thought I remembered the glaze had brown sugar and tomatoes in it, and I was right. So you did have pork before! The recipe says to to cook it in an electric frying pan. Since getting rid of that, I have never made the recipe again. I don’t know what happened to the electric frying pan. Maybe it didn’t want to move to Westminster and got sold at the yard sale.

  8. renae Said,

    August 20, 2008 @ 12:09 pm

    Just because you have a recipe for it doesn’t mean you made it! Good news, though! You don’t have to make it in an electric frying pan even if the recipe says so. I don’t even know what the point of an electric frying pan is. I don’t remember us ever owning one. Your story would be a bit more believable if you could produce this mythical thing.

  9. Dad Said,

    August 20, 2008 @ 2:22 pm

    Never had pork? Where do you think hot dogs come from? They make beef hot dogs but your mother never liked them. As for Seitan, is it pronounced Satan? Yes, my parents did serve deer meat once. They didn’t tell anyone because they wanted everyone to try it without prejudice. You know, the idea of eating Bambi might affect some people’s opinion. I thought it tasted OK but I do prefer to eat animals that aren’t so cute. I don’t find chickens, cattle or pigs all that attractive.

    PS. I thought your photos were very professional. Then that scary guy started appearing in them.

  10. renae Said,

    August 20, 2008 @ 3:03 pm

    I don’t WANT to know where hot dogs come from! Didn’t we used to get some sort of hot dogs with cheese in them? That’s bizarre.

    Seitan IS pronounced “satan”, which makes for interesting conversations around people who’ve never heard of it. I can wear my Praise Seitan shirt the next time I’m up at the parental homestead!

    And Smark’s not scary! I thought it was Tigger were you scared of!

    PS, Mr Cluckers takes offense to your not finding him attractive.

  11. renae Said,

    August 20, 2008 @ 3:15 pm

    PS Dad, do YOU remember Mom ever making pork chops?!?

  12. Mom Said,

    August 20, 2008 @ 3:42 pm

    I asked your father, and he can’t remember the barbecued pork chops either. He said that maybe I made them before you were old enough to eat them. I said that I made them in Eldersburg, so I am pretty sure you had them. Apparently I must have made them and eaten them all myself.

    Bologna also comes from pigs. And didn’t you sometimes have a ham sandwich for lunch? We did have Oscar Meyer hot dogs with cheese bits in them.

    Some meats that I had when I was young – fried scrapple, liver and onions, canned deviled ham, braunschweiger, and spiced ham lunch meat. I may have had Spam too, but I can’t remember for sure.

  13. Mom Said,

    August 20, 2008 @ 9:52 pm

    We used to have Swift’s Premium Brown & Serve Sausages too. So you have had all kinds of pork, and just don’t remember.

  14. Mark Said,

    August 20, 2008 @ 10:42 pm


  15. Mark Said,

    August 20, 2008 @ 10:43 pm

    That was supposed to somehow be embedded in the above post.

  16. Mark Said,

    August 20, 2008 @ 10:43 pm

    Renae is a pork lover. PORK LOVER PORK LOVER!

  17. Dad Said,

    August 21, 2008 @ 12:00 pm

    Hot dogs don’t come from any place good, that’s for sure. I prefer to evaluate food on the basis of it’s taste, not it’s origin. For me, it’s just food not a philosophy. As for your mother’s pork chops, I’m not saying she never made them, just that I don’t recall. Your mother actually cooking a meal is such a distant memory it’s hard for me to remember the details. The good news is that Lynn now has dinner with us every Saturday. She cooks sometimes and everything she makes is delicious. And she makes deserts that are even better! Lynn is my hero.

    PS Tell Mr Cluckers that he tastes better than he looks.

  18. Mom Said,

    August 21, 2008 @ 12:26 pm

    Lynn’s deserts must taste rather sandy.

    When I first kept reading the comments over (because of new ones being added), and saw that pork tasted like human, I constantly just kept thinking it said hunan, and was some strange thing I had never heard of before. I don’t usually know what Renae is talking about in this blog.

    Here is a picture that proves Renae loves pork –

  19. Cindy Said,

    August 21, 2008 @ 1:29 pm

    Exactly what WAS the point of the electric frying pan???? My mother had one when I was growing up. It was a pain to wash because of the electrical outlet that’s attached. I never questioned it….till now.

    I’m sensing some family issues around here but, anyway, great looking recipe!

  20. renae Said,

    August 21, 2008 @ 3:09 pm

    Actually, “Hunan” wouldn’t be such a crazy thing for pork to taste like. Pork is very popular in Chinese recipes and I’m sure there are tons of Hunan pork dishes.

    Mark came to my defense last night and said he agreed with me that it’s possible I’ve eaten ham and bacon but not pork because “pork is the other white meat”. Is ham white? No, it’s pink. Is bacon white? No, it’s pink. So although I’ve known all along that both pork and ham come from a pig, I thought pork was a specific TYPE of pig meat. (And that it was probably white in color.) I expressed this in the intro paragraphs of this post: I didn’t know if pork was a subset of ham or vice versa, or something completely different, and since no one has ever informed me I was eating pork, I figured I never had. But then Mark looked it up on the internet last night and learned that “pork”, from the Latin “porc”, is all pig flesh. How was I supposed to know?!? He didn’t know either! THAT’S WHY IT WAS A MYSTERY MEAT TO ME! I didn’t know what it IS!

    I think this conversation is bothering Pig, whom I would never, ever want to eat. (He says he’s NOT pork, Mom.)

    As it is, this incident at our wedding probably scarred him forever:

    It clearly drove him to a life of vice.

  21. renae Said,

    August 21, 2008 @ 3:14 pm

    Pig met some of his porcine brethren once:

  22. Mom Said,

    August 21, 2008 @ 3:58 pm

    I thought everyone knew what meats came from pigs. They all aren’t white, so that is no way to tell. I never realized that we should have explained that pork is pig and/or pig is pork.

    Pig (the puppet, although he probably doesn’t like me saying that) is just a terry cloth representation of pig, so I guess technically he is not pork.

  23. Aunt Lynn Said,

    August 22, 2008 @ 10:34 am

    You not only ate pork at the parental homestead but one time you and your brother spent the night at my apartment and ate pork there. Lengthy negotiations went on beforehand about what your brother would agree to eat for dinner. This was in his “would only eat something if you could convince him it was jello stage”. Green beans with smoked butt was agreed upon as an acceptable dinner so I dutifully bought the ingredients and cooked dinner for four hours at which time he balked at eating it. You ate yours right up.

    I would never, ever want to eat Pig either because he usually needs a bath. Plus there isn’t much substance to him.

  24. mkb Said,

    January 20, 2009 @ 5:24 pm

    I didn’t see anyone set you straight on this in the comments, but a pork butt is actually not the rear end of the pig, oddly enough. It is the upper section of the front leg.

    Of course if you have given up animal products then this is immaterial to you surely 🙂

  25. Cynthia Said,

    September 26, 2011 @ 2:32 pm

    Just wanted to say that a couple weeks i stumbled accross ur website looking for a way to use old bay (found ur old bay lentil soup) and now im absolutely hooked on your website! Its great being able to find good vegan/vegetarian recipies that actually have flavor (im a veg but my fiance is not) so theres always a struggle to cook a good meal and to prove to him that tofu and all other meat subsitutes are not bad tasting!

    so all in all i just wanted to let you know that you have amazing recipies..oh..and is there a simple way to make seitan or however you spell it? i have a very simple kitchen with limited tools (we’re always broke) but i would love to try and make it!

  26. Julie Said,

    April 30, 2012 @ 4:36 pm

    Heh…no no no, “Pork butt” isn’t from piggy’s hinie–it’s the butt of the shoulder (of the foreleg). Sometimes called “pork shoulder.” Sometimes called “Boston butt.”

RSS feed for comments on this post

Leave a Comment