We know we promised you a full report on our efforts to smoke a turducken for yesterday’s Super Bowl party…and we’ll have all the details (complete with a last-minute andouille gravy) for you tomorrow.
But we interrupt our regularly scheduled post to bring you something just a little meatier.
If you’ve read the New York Times, watched Good Morning America, or read almost any food-related website over the past week, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve heard about the Bacon Explosion. Two pounds of sausage, two pounds of bacon, two hours (more or less) on a smoker, and you’ve got a concoction that can best be described as “a gigantic sausage with a bacon casing.”
When two of our good friends (the Bacon Terrorist, natch, Nell) emailed the Times’ article saying “OMG!! I found your recipe for Superbowl Sunday!” and “We’ve got to make this,” we knew it was time to call an audible. We already had the turducken plan underway, but we quickly decided to forego the pulled pork that we were also considering in favor of pork sausage and bacon.
But we couldn’t just blindly follow the recipe…that would be way too easy. We decided to take the Bacon Explosion in a new, sweeter direction.
Our revisions to the basic Bacon Explosion and the results after the jump.
If there was any doubt that the Bacon Explosion phenomenon had reached a fever pitch here in DC, it was dispelled when I got in line at Union Meat Company in Eastern Market on Saturday. Two of the three people in line ahead of me placed exactly the same order: “Can I get two pounds of ground sausage and two pounds of thick-sliced bacon?” As though they were giving some sort of secret code, I looked at each one in turn and asked, “Bacon Explosion?”
Both guys’ eyes lit up and smiles spread across their faces as they acknowledged that they, too, were planning to tackle the meaty monstrosity.
After buying the bacon and the sausage that the recipe called for, I stopped off at Paik’s Produce to pick up some apples. Nell had floated the idea of using a chicken-and-apple sausage as the filling for our Explosion, thinking that the sweetness of the apple would contrast nicely with the saltiness of the bacon and the savory flavors in the sausage. Though we rejected the chicken sausage as being likely to dry out too quickly, the concept of a sweeter sausage stuck with us. We decided we would add apples, green onions and sage to store-bought ground sausage, effectively creating our own verison of a pork-and-apple sausage.
When Nell, the Bacon Terrorist and I met up at Benny Hana’s house (the site of our party and the location of the Big Green Egg), we settled on a division of labor to ensure that everything got done in a timely fashion. The Bacon Terrorist lived up to his name, turning out some nicely crisped slices to make up the innermost layer of the Explosion. Nell handled the 5 strip-by-5 strip bacon weave that formed the outer casing. She also made the sausage mixture and laid it out atop the woven bacon.
Me? I tended to the Big Green Egg, ensuring that the smoker would be smoking and would be able to maintain the prescribed 225-degree environment in which the meat would slowly cook. I also made a last-minute run to pick up another pound of sausage and another dozen strips of bacon (medium-sliced this time around) when we worried that the shorter slices of thick-cut bacon would result in inadquate coverage of the Explosion.
So we ended up making two versions of the Bacon Explosion – one using thick-cut bacon and a sausage mixture that featured more apple, and the other using medium-cut bacon and a mixture that was more savory. We dusted the less-sweet version with additional spice rub and brought them out to the Big Green Egg. We were greeted with a billow of white applewood smoke as we opened the Egg to set the twin pork-bombs on the grate and start the smoking.
Two hours later, we opened up the BGE and we found two nearly-indistinquishable Bacon Explosions. The smoke had colored the bacon nicely, but it needed a final step. The original recipe called for basting the Explosion with a Kansas City-style barbecue sauce just before serving, adding flavor but creating something of a sticky mess. So we decided to make one last modification to the recipe, adding our sauce while the meat was still cooking and giving it a chance to cook down and form more of a glaze on the exterior.
At the end of the day, the Bacon Explosions were a decided success. The sausage absorbed all the rich smokiness of the Big Green Egg, taking on a lovely pink hue despite being cooked throughout. The bacon in the middle of the roll maintained its crisp texture, adding a nice textural element. And the bacon wrapped around the exterior benefited from the extra time with the sauce, resulting in a mellow sweetness.
We were all pleased with the ease of the recipe and the outcome, though some of the guests who tried it seemed surprised by the assertive meatiness of the flavor. The combination of bacon AND sausage results in a taste that is about as big (and as salty) as you might expect. Even with the added sweetness of the apple, this was definitely a meat-lover’s dish.
So would we do it again? Maybe…the preparation was easy enough, and the response was definitely positive, but the result wasn’t as earth-shattering as we had hoped. Even so, I suspect we’d be happy to take another crack at it if we could come up with another variation worth trying out.
Did you try your hand at a Bacon Explosion this weekend? If so, what did you think? What kind of feedback did you get from your guests?