Food & Drink

Bacon Explosion

Makes 20 ½-inch thick slices

Bacon, sausage, and barbecue sauce combine for a one-of-a-kind dish

photo: Angie Mosier


“Let me just say: I have seen the Bacon Explosion at its origin point. A few years ago, I helped build some Web-based cooking shows with Jason Day and Aaron Chronister, the guys who eventually produced The Bacon Show. These guys are competitive BBQ veterans from Kansas City, and they created the Bacon Explosion. It’s a dish of highly seasoned loose Italian sausage layered with cooked bacon and barbecue sauce that’s wrapped in a lattice of bacon strips and smoked. It’s absurd—and absurdly delicious. My version includes cheddar cheese and charred jalapeños. I hope this rendition pays tribute to the original but also inspires you to create your own. You could stuff this with cotton candy and it would taste good. Go nuts!”

Note: In the book Gillespie provides recipes to make your own bacon, sausage, and barbecue sauce, but you can use whatever brands you prefer in the recipe below.


Ingredients

    • 24 slices thick-cut bacon

    • 2 lb. spicy pork sausage, chilled

    • 8 oz. cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, grated

    • 1/3 cup barbecue sauce, plus more for serving

    • 6 jalepeños, charred, peeled, sliced lengthwise, stems and seeds removed


Preparation

  1. Lay a 12 by 18-inch piece of aluminum foil on your work surface, with the 12-inch side toward you. Using 16 strips uncooked bacon, make an 8-inch square lattice weave in the center of the foil (think apple pie lattice).

  2. Using scissors, cut the remaining 8 slices bacon into ¼-inch pieces and cook, stirring occasionally, in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat until crispy, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate and allow to drain.

  3. In a bowl, combine the sausage with one-quarter of the grated cheese and 3 tablespoons of the barbecue sauce. Pat the sausage mixture onto the center of the lattice, leaving a 1-inch border around all sides. Fold the jalapeños out flat and spread across the center of the sausage, then sprinkle the diced bacon and the remaining grated cheese over the jalapeños.

  4. Lift the edge of the foil closest to you up and over, folding the lattice-backed sausage up and over the jalapeños, bacon, and cheese, almost to the edge. Using your hands and working quickly, tuck the edges up and under the bottom and around the ends, nice and tidy, so that the loaf is fully encased in bacon. Wrap tightly in the foil and chill for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours, until firm.

  5. Heat a smoker to 225°F. Unwrap the chilled loaf and hot-smoke at 225°F to an internal temperature of 160°F, about 1½ hours.

  6. Adjust the oven rack to the second highest setting and preheat the broiler to high.

  7. Place the loaf on a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil and brush with the remaining barbecue sauce and broil until the bacon starts to brown and curl, about 4 minutes. Slice and serve as you would a meat loaf, with additional sauce on the side.

Recipe from Pure Pork Awesomeness: Totally Cookable Recipes from Around the World by Kevin Gillespie with David Joachim, Andrews McMeel Publishing LLC

Chef's Tip:

To char the jalapeños, place them in a smoking-hot cast-iron pan or on a grill until blackened all over. Let cool, then peel and cut the pepper flesh from the core.

I like to slice this and serve it like meat loaf. Or slice it thin and serve in a biscuit or as a decadent topping for a hamburger.


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