Bacon Explosion: Drop That Bomb on Me
|Photos by Bradford Schmidt|
"What are you doing?" My wife, Joanna, had returned unexpectedly from some errands was staring at me from the doorway.
"What? The house is always filled with kids. I had some time alone -- what do you think I'm going to do? You, uh, want to help me out a little?" I asked her.
"Hmmm. I don't know, I'm kind of enjoying just watching. I've just never seen anyone actually weave something out of bacon."
Neither had I, but she was partly responsible for me taking on this latest meat-craft.
The Bacon Explosion was created by a couple of guys in Kansas City in 2008, and the recipe was posted on their BBQ blog. Basically, it's a couple of pounds of sausage and bacon rolled up in a bacon lattice and cooked in a smoker for a
couple of hours. This isn't a new concept; rolling shit up inside a bacon lattice and cooking it is more common than you'd think. For my first attempt though, I was going with the basic recipe to find out if it could live up to the hype. Bravado aside, four pounds is a lot of fucking pork, and I'll admit that I had my doubts.
Judging by the look on her face, Joanna had some doubts herself. She had walked in shortly after I began making it: I was laying down the six-slice-by-six-slice weave of bacon that would ultimately become the Bacon Explosion's outer shell, while about a half pound of bacon was popping and sizzling in a pan on the stove.
"Do me a favor and pull that bacon from the pan, will you?" I asked. "Just put it on a plate with a paper towel to drain. I've got raw pork all over my hands from weaving - it sucks not having a bacon loom."
"You're making a dish with what, two pounds of bacon and a couple of pounds of sausage, and you're worried about draining the bacon fat?"
"I'm not an idiot," I told her. "And shove a piece of that in my mouth, would you? I want to give my arteries a warm-up before eating dinner."
After setting my weave up and getting some more bacon in the pan, I made a spice rub. The recipe calls for using a pre-made dry rub, but I just threw one of my own together: paprika, chili powder, salt, pepper, some other assorted spices, and...
"Joanna, grab me some brown sugar for this rub, will you?"
"Right. Because this just is too healthy as it stands - I get it."
After coating the weave with my rub, it was time to spread some sausage meat. I'd grabbed a few pounds of sweet Italian sausage links and squeezed them out into a bowl, mooshing them together into a huge mound of raw pork and seasonings. I dug in and started to spread it over the weave.
"You want to do some of this?" I asked.
"Dude, no. Not even a little." Joanna doesn't really dig running her fingers through raw ground meat. Not like my son Desmond, who would make meatloaf all day if he could.
"Alright. Then take the cooked bacon and break it up into chunks, OK? I need it for the next layer."
After spreading the sausage evenly, edge-to-edge, over the weave, I took all the bacon Joanna that hadn't hoovered and laid it down on the sausage bed. A smattering of BBQ sauce and it was time to roll the bitch up. The sausage. After sealing the edges like a hearty meat cigar, a quick reverse roll with the bacon weave, and I was ready to slap the 7,000-calorie pork IED on the grill.
That's right, the grill. I'm outing myself: I don't own a smoker. Worse, I only have access to a gas grill right now. Since the recipe calls for smoking the meat (shut up), improvisation was the name of the game. I had soaked a shitload of wood chips in water while prepping the explosion, and then placed them in aluminum foil rafts above the "flavor bars" and under the grill surface. It didn't generate nearly the smoke I wanted, but it was better than something as lame a liquid smoke.
After 2 ½ hours at 225 degrees, it had reached an internal temp of about 160. My 12-year-old daughter rolled out to the patio and took a peek under the cover.
"Holy crap. That's incredible."
Nina has a gift for succinct and accurate narrative. A quick coating of barbecue sauce and it was ready to cut into tasty one-inch bacon-and-pork spiraled discs.
So did it live up to the hype? That'd be a "yes," Bob. But then again, it doesn't take a genius to know that I'd love it. The real litmus test was Joanna, who normally at least pays lip service to the value of some sort of vegetable being included in a meal and can be a bit turned off by meals that consist of slabs of meat. She had no such issues with the Bacon Explosion.
"This is really delicious," she said over a couple of slabs. "What do you think about rolling up some cheese in it next time?"
And now you know why I married her.
Bradford Schmidt is The Meatist. He's also author of the blog Bone in the Fan. He lives in northern Palm Beach County and has plans to weave a snuggie out of bacon.