So I'm working at home last week and my co-worker David sends me an email with a link to a story at the NY Times, and the line "How about you make one of these the next time you smoke up some meat loaf" or something to that effect. Everyone in development knows that I love to rock the smoked meat loaf, and many of them have benefited directly from that love as I always bring in some tasty slices for my coworkers.
The story that David sent me about a glorious dish called The Bacon Explosion. Basically two guys at BBQAddicts.com came up with the dish and then set about spreading the joy of their discovery all throughout the internet. Here's the NY Times story if you're interested and here's the original recipe.
Not being one to shy away from an explosion of pork products, I set about to make one of my very own, choosing to do so on Super Bowl Sunday, the unofficial Day of Gluttony in this fine country. I followed the BBQAddicts recipe, not the amended one on the NY Times, and here, for all to see, is the result of my endeavors.
To make a Bacon Explosion of your own you'll need the following:
2lb thick cut bacon
2lb pork sausage, casings removed
BBQ rub of your choosing
BBQ sauce of your choosing
For the bacon, buy whatever brand you want, but make sure that you get ten slices per one pound package. You'll see why in just a bit. You want an equal amount of bacon outside and inside the explosion and if you have more than 10 slices per pound, you'll have more inside than outside. For the sausage, you can use whatever you want, but I used Jimmy Dean plain sausage. I'm intrigued as how Italian sausage would work with the explosion, but that will have to wait for another time.
On to the cooking!
Place five bacon slices side by side, parallel to each other. Then, take five more bacon slices side by side and perpendicular to the original five, weaving them in and out so that you have a bacon pot holder. Make sure that all of the bacon slices are tightly packed against each other. When done, it should look like this:
You'll notice that my weave had some thickness problems. That's because in one of my packages, two of the slices were way too thin to be used. No problem, as I had another whole package to use. Well, I didn't check that package closely enough and all of the slices in that packages had a uniform width for about 3/4 the length of the slice, tapering off into a pig tail of sorts. The tail was way too narrow to use, so I took it off and just used shorted slices.
Once you have your weave, sprinkle it with whatever BBQ rub you want. I used Steven Raichlen's Java BBQ rub. Given how much I love coffee, and that this rub has coffee in it, I thought it was appropriate. Plus, it was lying around.
Spread the sausage over the weave so that the sausage doesn't go quite to the edge of the weave. Try and make the sausage patty as uniformly thick as possible. Here's how mine looked:
Cook up the remaining bacon however you like it, crisp, soggy, burnt, whatever. Once the bacon is done, crumble it on up and sprinkle it on the sausage patty.
Drizzle your BBQ sauce of choice over the crumbled bacon and sausage patty. I used a combination of Famous Dave's Devil Spit and some Pecan BBQ sauce we picked up in Texas. Here's how it all looked:
Very carefully, roll the sausage up away from you, being sure to pull it away from the weave as you go. Once the sausage is all rolled up, pinch the ends together. It should look like this:
Now roll the sausage towards you, this time pressing the weave into the roll. Be sure to keep the bacon slices up against each other. It seems difficult, but it's really quite simple. Once rolled, sprinkle some more rub on the pork log. Here's the finished, rolled product:
Cook the damn thing. The recipe calls for cooking the explosion in a 225 degree oven, or a smoker at the same temperature. I used my smoker, with hickory chunks, but as I stopped worrying about temperatures a long time ago when smoking, my smoker started somewhere in the 360 range and eventually got down to about 250. Given that my smoker wasn't at the prescribed temperature, I can't tell you how long it will take to cook, but mine took about an hour and a half. Cook the log until the internal temperature reaches 165. I went to 170 as sometimes ground meat can be dodgy with bacteria and with all of that fat in there, chances are it wouldn't dry out. Here it is cooked:
At this point, you could sauce it some more if you wanted, but of late, I've been digging the taste of just the meat and the smoke, so I chose not to sauce it. I was rewarded for my restraint. The end piece was gloriously juicy with fantastic mix of sweet bacon and flavorful sausage, all wrapped up in a smokey kiss. Here's a shot of the inside, when sliced. Dig that crazy smoke ring.
I had the end piece you see on the right immediately after slicing it, and then another slice later on as a sandwich with a little BBQ sauce. Fantastic! I gave a slice to my son and he wolfed it down like he hadn't eaten all day. That's my boy. Given the artery clogging nature of the Bacon Explosion, I don't see it as something I make frequently, but I certainly will make it again. Hot damn is it good. To thank David for turning me on to the Bacon Explosion, I gave him half of what was left after Ben and I ate a couple of slices. Nothing says thanks like a pound of smoked pork products.