I got this recipe from the NY Times just in time to make it for my 10th annual Super Bowl Party. When I mentioned to Carol – who sent me the link – that I wanted to make it, she said, “Oh no, the guests will explode!”
“What better time,” I said, “we’ll have 15 people here, the perfect opportunity.”
The Times story, by Damon Darlin, was entitled, “Take Bacon. Add Sausage. Blog.” They did it in a smoker; I don’t have a smoker and Super Sunday turned out to be a beautiful day, so I did it on my Weber Q grill.
So, here’s my story, dedicated to my brother, Tom, who was in Atlanta, weeping.
Adapted from Jason Day and Aaron Chronister and the New York Times story by Damon Darlin.
Yield: 10 or more servings.
Time: It took me about 90 minutes to prep and 80 minutes on the grill. I had the outer ring set on low and the center, direct element, turned off. It preheated at about 450°F and settled on just under 300°F for cooking.
Super Bowl XVIII – This was a big hit! And no wonder, it’s good. Get REALLY GOOD bacon from the meat counter, not the packaged stuff like I did. See my cook’s notes in the text in [italic].
2 pounds thick-cut sliced bacon [I used 2 12-ounce packs. That was enough.]
1 1/2 pounds Italian sausage, casings removed [I used Marin Sun Farms
sweet Italian, 3 sausages per pack = 1 pound. Used four sausages. Could have used a bit more.]
3 tablespoons barbecue rub [I couldn’t find any BBQ Rub at Whole Food and didn’t feel like making my own, so I just used extra sauce.]
3/4 cup barbecue sauce. [I used Bone Suckin’ Sauce. Hey, I liked the name and it was more expensive than most, so I went for it. Not only that: all natural – fat free – gluten free, and I could pronounce all the ingredients on the list. Good stuff.]
1. Make a bacon weave – Using 10 slices of bacon, weave a square lattice like that on top of a pie: first, place 5 bacon slices side by side on a large sheet of aluminum foil, parallel to one another, sides touching. [Working on foil is really important, and make sure it’s plenty big. It helps get your rolling started and serves as a base for the entire operation.] Place another strip of bacon on one end, perpendicular to the other strips. Fold first, third and fifth bacon strips back over this new strip, then place another strip next to it, parallel to it. Unfold first, third and fifth strips; fold back second and fourth strips. Repeat with remaining bacon until all 10 strips are tightly woven. [This took a little trial and error. Perhaps my bacon wasn’t very wide, but it took 6 strips side by side to make one length. So I made a 6×6 grid.]
2. Light your fire, spread your sausage – Preheat oven to 225 degrees or light a fire in an outdoor smoker. Place remaining bacon in a frying pan and cook until crisp. As it cooks, sprinkle bacon weave with 1 tablespoon barbecue rub. Evenly spread sausage on top of bacon lattice, pressing to outer edges. [After skinning the sausages, I had to kneed the meat a bit to get it nice and smooth and spreadable – buying bulk sausage would be way too easy.]
3. Spread your bacon – Crumble fried bacon into bite-size pieces. Sprinkle on top of sausage. Drizzle with 1/2 cup barbecue sauce and sprinkle with another tablespoon barbecue rub. [I cut my bacon into squared before frying. It fried up crispy, but not really crumbly. Again, get the best bacon.]
4. Roll your sausage – Very carefully separate front edge of sausage layer from bacon weave and begin rolling sausage away from you. Bacon weave should stay where it was, flat. Press sausage roll to remove any air pockets and pinch together seams and ends. [This is not as hard as it sounds. I managed it on the first try.]
5. Roll the whole deal – Roll sausage toward you, this time with bacon weave, until it is completely wrapped. [This is where using the foil really pays off.] Turn it so seam faces down. Roll should be about 2 to 3 inches thick. Sprinkle with remaining barbecue rub.
6. Cook – Place roll on a baking sheet in oven or in smoker. Cook until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees on a meat thermometer, about 1 hour for each inch of thickness. When done, glaze roll with more sauce. To serve, slice into 1/4-to- 1/2-inch rounds.
Sorry, no picture of the Explosion on the serving platter. I got busy with organizing the betting and games of chance, and then there was the coin toss – first bet – and then right away the Steelers completed their first pass – second bet – and by the time I got to the Explosion, all that was left was the heel. That was damn good, anyway.