Thursday, December 10, 2009

An Experience In Bacon

A couple of months ago I posted my discovery of something called a "Bacon Explosion". A couple of weeks ago I finally was able to make my version of the recipe as my contribution to the put-luck supper at a Grey Cup party.

A "Bacon Explosion" is a meat creation comprised of bacon and sausage meat, where the sausage meat is surrounded in a woven wrap of bacon and the bacon and sausage rolled together. The meat is then smoked and slow cooked. There are as many variations on this theme as there are folks that have made it, with various fillings used, and a variety of spices or sauces. Further, the type and degree of smoke can also be varied.

For my version I decided to use a filling of bacon, onions, red peppers and mushrooms, using inspiration provided by Dunkin'.

For my sausage meat I originally bought some frozen plastic wrapped breakfast sausage meat at the local Sobey's grocery store. They only had one 500g package though, and I needed 2 kg. So, I also bought some mild Italian sausage in casings from Superstore. After cooking up a bit of the meat from Sobey's, I'm glad they didn't have more of it as I found it to be very salty & very fatty. The Italian sausage, thankfully, was neither. Below, the sausage meat has been stripped from it's casings and the first few slices of bacon fried up and chopped for use in the filling:

Some nice, healthy vegetables for the filling:

I should have taken a couple pictures prior to this next step. The bacon was laid out in a mat and woven together as per the instructions at the BBQ Addicts web site. On that woven bacon I sprinkled some rub that I had on hand. On top of the bacon I laid the sausage meat, forming the meat into a thin layer. The meat was not formed as one thin sheet and laid on top, but rather pressed into place piece by piece. I think that approach led to the cooked product not holding together well. I should have rolled it out into a layer, then somehow transferred it into place. The next layer was the chopped bacon and cooked vegetables.

The filling was seasoned with more of the rub and a generous amount of President's Choice Chipotle BBQ sauce (really decent stuff, by the way).

I should have had a photographer present during the rolling process. I rolled up the stack of layers, trying to keep everything as tight as possible.Getting the thing to roll up and keeping all the filling inside was easier said than done, but the next one should go better (not that this one went badly).

Below, I'm adding more of the rub seasoning:

A couple of hours in advance of the Grey Cup game, I brought the smoker over to Rob's place and set up in the back yard. A tarp was set up to protect the smoker from the wind, and a thin blanket wrapped around the smoker to help get the temperature up in the cool weather. The meat was smoked with maple wood at about 225°F.

After 4 hours of smoking, the Bacon Explosion is ready to come out at half-time.

Ready to eat:

Below, a picture of me slicing up my contribution to the potluck supper:

The creation was very tasty. In fact, we were so busy eating that no one could take a picture of us enjoying it. It was not as fatty as I might have expected. Slow cooking at those temperatures (200 - 250 F) melted a lot of the fat out of the meat. It did shrink a certain amount and firmed up. In the future, I'll try to make sure it is rolled tighter and that sausage meat is better consolidated so that it holds together better during the slicing.
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