Tuesday, September 08, 2009

It's Labor Day, so I did my red-blooded American patriotic duty and grilled a BACON EXPLOSION...

Frankly, I didn't have high hopes for how this would turn out, because I'm predisposed against Internet memes in general. Also, even though I'm Chinese and have thus grown up with pork as a fifth food group, eating that much pork and pork-related product in one sitting set off kashrut flags I didn't even know I had. But I'm an American, and eating enormous gobbets of red meat suffused with nitrates is sort of like a Labor Day version of communion

And so, a blow-by-blow look at the ontogeny of a Bacon Explosion.

1. These are the raw materials of a B.E.:  Bacon and Sausage. Think of them as the gametes for your embryonic smoked flesh torpedo--or "gameats," if you will. I'm going to assume that the sausage brings the male chromosome to the table here. The union of bacon and sausage produces...if not life, then the next best thing--death by porking

2. I wussed out a little. For the second pound of bacon required in the recipe, I bought low sodium bacon. I'm not sure why. Except that I also order a Diet Coke with my Big Mac Extra Value Meals. It's a fig leaf that makes me feel like I'm not playing dietary Russian Roulette, even when I am. 

3. I don't actually have a smoker--just a standard Weber grill. To avoid putting the fat-laden pork loaf directly on the gas grill's grate, I made a little pan out of tinfoil. This proved to be a terrible idea, since the pooled fat of the B.E., when ignited, exploded with the fury of a thousand suns. I stood watching like J. Robert Oppenheimer ("Now I am become Jeff, destroyer of entrees") and then doused the fire with a molasses-heavy barbecue sauce. 

4. The recipe actually says to weave a flat placemat out of strips of thick-cut bacon. I decided to get a little fancy and used my mad basketweaving skills to make a kind of bacon envelope; note the neat fold-and-tuck edges. Who knew years of sleepaway summer camp would eventually prove useful? (I resisted the temptation to braid a bacon friendship bracelet.)

5. After the plaiting comes the seasoning. I used Grill Mates Montreal Steak Rub because I didn't have a legit BBQ rub. This actually turned out to be just what the doctor ordered--it added a nicely spicy, garlicky, peppery flavor to the dish.

6. Next, the fry-up of the interior bacon. Some like their bacon crispy or crumbly; I prefer it to still have some curl and tenderness. Your mileage may vary. 

7. The sausage meat is flattened out in a square at the center of the bacon weave, then hit with rub, then layered with the cooked bacon, then drizzled with barbecue sauce. We happened to have around the house an unused bottle of Salt Lick BBQ original recipe sauce from Austin, TX, which has a vinegar-mustard-molasses base. It set off the heat of the Montreal rub perfectly. 

8. First you roll up the sausage meat with the bacon/sauce/rub mixture inside it, pinching shut the ends...

9. Then you wrap the bacon around your sausage package, creating what appears to be a chrysalis, from whence a beautiful butterfly will emerge. (The BBQ Addicts guys version looked far neater than mine. Ah well. It all tastes the same.)

10. Again, no smoker, so I just grilled this on low heat, and accidentally flambeed one end of it, due to my greasefire disaster. Note to all: Those silicone crab-claw mitts are awesome and should be kept on hand at all barbecues. You may not know when you need to reach directly into an open flame to retrieve a fumbled meat football.)

11. The finished B.E., in all of its porky glory

12. How I served up the B.E.: Sliced thick, on toasted potato hamburger rolls, dressed with chili ketchup, pickled banana peppers, mild tomato salsa and iceberg lettuce. My friend Bill: "This is...really good." Everyone else: Munch munch munch. Seriously...it may have been the best thing I've ever made on a grill. 

13. Oh yeah, I also made fresh guacamole. One chunky-mashed avocado, chopped onion, minced garlic, the juice of half a lime, several spoonfuls of mild tomato salsa, and salt to taste. It's excellent, and with some nice "scoop-styleTostitos, made for a nice side to the B.E. To wash it down: Heineken Light. And it was good, especially when consumed while the Yankees crushed the Tampa Bay Rays in both halves of a day-night double-header

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