Tag Archives: Bacon

Bacon Wrapped Smoked Meatballs

When you love bacon, meatballs, smoked food… why not combine those things and celebrate Opening Day of the Cardinals season?

Start with the meatballs. I love meatballs.

2+ lbs. ground (un-tubed) salsiccia
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/2 to 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 finely minced medium yellow onion
2 eggs
Generous squirt of ketchup
Slightly less generous squirt of yellow mustard
Few jostles of Worcestershire sauce
Multiple dashes of Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
Handful of shakes of Slap Ya Mamma brand Cajun seasoning
Couple tsp. Italian Seasoning
Sprinkle of sage

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Un-balled meatballs

Turn that bowl of mush into a wad of mush with your well-washed hands.

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Wad of pre-meatball

Form into 1″ or so meatballs. I set mine up on baking paper on a cookie sheet.

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Meatballs, just like your stereotypical Italian grandma used to make

You’re going to wrap each meatball with some bacon. I selected National Champion Bacon from Swiss Meats in Swiss, MO. Have you ever been national champ at something? Probably not. If you were, it was something lame like tennis or chess, not freaking bacon. This stuff is awesome.

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Thick Cut Bacon. America.

Toothpicks were necessary to keep the bacon wrapped. One each per bacon strip / meatball.

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Yes.

Onto the 22″ Weber Smokey Mountain you go, along with the extra bacon and a dozen or so chicken wing drummettes.

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What a lovely day for smokey BBQ.

To smoke the meat, I have some Missouri pear wood. Never cooked with pear wood before, but it was free from a friend who decided a pear tree needed to be trimmed and/or die, so into the fire it went. What a wonderful smell that wood smoke generated.

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About an hour in…

As time passed, I watched a little baseball and drank a little beer.

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Good things coming soon.

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About 1/5 hours in.

The WSM kept at about 200-220 throughout the smoke. Since this is ground meat, particularly ground meat that had been thoroughly churned with my bare hands, I needed the instant bacteria death temperature of 165 for the center of each meatball.

Around the 2.5 hour mark, the BBQed meats were about done.

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My experiment is complete!

Things are looking good here.

I never flipped or turned or moved any meatball. Just the smoke and indirect WSM heat slowly brought each one up to the final temperature.

Since the meatballs varied by size and were in different locations on the grill grate, they didn’t all hit 165 simultaneously. A few went into the 170s and 180s while the last stragglers caught up to the safe temperature. No matter – the BBQ wasn’t so hot as to dry out and burn the early bloomers.

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Bacon-wrapped smoked meatball – final product

They looked good and smelled good. But, were they juicy and flavorful?

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Bisected smoked meatball

Yes, they were! I failed to capture it here in the above picture, but there was a very subtle pink smoke ring around the meatballs.

They had very much of a traditional Italian meatball flavor and texture, but had a robust (yet not overpowering) smoke flavor. They were moist and succulent. The bacon sliced nicely with a dull steak knife and didn’t get tough or crispy. Pretty damn tasty if I say so myself, and I am a hard critic of my own food.

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The results

Garnish options abound. I had half of it unsauced, and gave the other half a try with some Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce. I tried another later with some beer mustard. It was all successful.

BBQ leftovers aren’t very common, but a few of these made it to Monday and they held well in the fridge. Warmed at 70% power for 1 minute, they nuked well and needed no sauce garnish – stayed plenty juicy and tender.

This is an easy recipe that produces a unique, flavorful BBQ experience. Everyone who came over for the baseball game enjoyed them (even though the game didn’t go so well).

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Smoked Bacon Wrapped Pork Steaks

Pork steaks, the 1″ or so slices of a Boston Butt (pork shoulder), are a St. Louis institution. A “true” St. Louisan would cook the hell out of them over direct heat and then chuck them into a bath of Maull’s BBQ sauce and Budweiser to simmer for a while. When I say direct heat, I mean a generous pile of charcoal lit by lighter fluid until the grill surface exceeds 500 degrees, only to be cooled by spritzing Bud Light onto the flames. Serve with corn on the cob, vinegary slaw, and gooey butter cake.

It’s one of those tastes / mouthfeels that pulls you to a time and place in your past. Oppressive August heat and humidity, standing on a zoysia grass lawn in swim trunks while a sprinkler mists you and your siblings and neighbors. Your feet are covered in grass clippings and mud from your trip down the Slip n Slide, half of the spraying nozzles shooting in weird directions. Beer cans still had pull tabs. An ice cream truck is audible but not visible, having stopped off at some other family’s summer BBQ. Your uncle has opinions about unions and urban crime that he only shares once he’s full of light beer. An overloaded wax paper plate barely contains all that food, a swirl of sauce and slaw dressing drips on to a card table with a ripped yellow foam and plastic pleather top. Patterned too-thin napkins do a poor job of cleaning the sauce off your face. The meat is dried out and over tender, but the Mets are pond scum, and dammit it’s tasty. Sip on some orange Vess soda.This is an STL summer BBQ in the late 80s.

Just a few weeks ago at the Webster Groves carnival, I re-sampled the traditional STL pork steak. While nostalgic, it’s an experience best left in the past.

Only the finest pork steaks from Schnucks

Only the finest pork steaks from Schnucks

A couple pork steaks were well-dusted with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, given a nice sprinkling of dried sage, and conservatively added a few shakes of Slap Ya Mama, a spicy seasoning souvenir from my trip to Florida last year.

Since bacon-wrapping whole pork steaks might be tricky, given their size and shape, I elected to cut them in half before wrapping.

Halved, seasoned pork steaks

Halved, seasoned pork steaks

I experimented both with and without water-soaked bamboo skewers. It turns out that they were unnecessary.

Probably a little more skewer than necessary

Probably a little more skewer than necessary

In a Weber 22″, I set up for indirect smoking with a 1/2 chimney of Kingsford charcoal and apple wood chunks. The lid should be oriented so that the vent is open and over the meat, so the smoke and heat must be drawn past the pork as it leaves the grill. This ensures lots of smoke flavor and even cooking.

Grill set up, ready for smoke

Grill set up, ready for smoke

After about 30 minutes, I checked on the pork steaks and flipped them.

Wonderful color, great smoke texture on the bacon

Wonderful color, great smoke texture on the bacon

I love how bacon will curl and harden after smoking. The temptation to pull of those crispy curls is strong.

Close up of porky goodness

Close up of porky goodness

Once flipped, I left them alone for a little more smoke and tossed a couple more wood chunks on the coals.

The underside of the half-completed pork steaks

The underside of the half-completed pork steaks

Grill-marked smoked bacon

Grill-marked smoked bacon

After another 15-20 minutes, I pulled the meat and let it rest for about 5-10 minutes. I’d hate to cut into one of these and have all the juices spill out.

Finished product

Finished product

Cross section of bacon wrapped pork steaks

Cross section of bacon wrapped pork steaks

For once I managed to get some great color on bacon-wrapped meat. It’s been a struggle in the past, but these pork steaks possessed a wonderful pink ring along the outside.

Close up bite with smoke ring detail

Close up bite with smoke ring detail

Tender, juicy… lots of pork flavors and crispy bacon texture. These are not your classic St. Louis pork steaks. No Maull’s, no beer bath, no shredding over tender dried out pork.

I repeated this on a larger scale on a UDS a week later.

Love my country house UDS

Love my country house UDS

These came out just as well as the trial versions I made at home.

Hungry family members were pleased

Hungry family members were pleased

Classic childhood food experiences have a place. In the case of bad pork steaks, that place is firmly in the past. Slow smoking pork steaks is the way to go.

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Smoked Chicken Bacon Cheesy Fajita Wrap

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

A few weeks back, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that SugarFire Smokehouse had placed in Memphis In May for some kind of smoked chicken bacon cheesy sushi dish. I gave it a shot a couple weeks ago on vacation as an appetizer for our fajita night, and we were met with rave reviews.

The wife told me to “take it easy” and “not go crazy” on the BBQ this 4th of July, so I made fresh salsa, grilled a bunch of gourmet sausages, and made the smoked chicken bacon cheesy fajita wrap for my extended family.

Step one is the bacon weave, this time a full pound of Tyson pork bacon (since it was on an insane sale of $2.99 for a 1 lb. pack), hosting at its center a pounded-flat boneless skinless chicken breast (this one being a little over 1o ounces).

Bacon weave and flattened chicken breast

Bacon weave and flattened chicken breast

On that went a washed, seeded, and thinly sliced Anaheim pepper, and a quarter of a sweet yellow (Vidalia) onion, cut into liberal long slices.

Peppers and onions round out a fajita

Peppers and onions round out a fajita

And on top of all THAT went some pulled mozzarella string cheese (two sticks) and a couple slices of pepper jack. I didn’t want too much heat, since a variety of people would be eating this – including a couple people who aren’t down with the hot peppers.

Cheesy does it

Cheesy does it

When wrapping this contraption, I pulled the bacon edges nearest to me into the center of the cheese slices and then rolled the whole thing forward. This may allow the cheese to slide around two sides of the bacon.

I didn’t bother closing up the edges since they went so far beyond the ends of the chicken and other contents.

Wrapped and ready for smoke

Wrapped and ready for smoke

My weave / wrap went onto a Weber 22″ set up for indirect smoking with large hickory chunks.

Time to drink some beers

Time to drink some beers

While this smoked, I drank some amazing beers that I muled back from Florida. That we can buy neither Oskar Blues nor Dogfish Head in St. Louis is ridiculous.

After 45 minutes, I rolled it over. After barely over an hour, it was fully smoked. Importantly, the digital temperature probe read well over 165 in all locations that I tested. It’s ready to rest.

OMG that looks nice

OMG that looks nice

After about 10 minutes of resting, I sliced it at an angle and rang the appetizer bell.

The middle pieces are nice, but the ends are excellent

The middle pieces are nice, but the ends are excellent

Cleaning up the scraps of smoked crispy bacon was hard work. I barely hat time to get pictures.

If you make this, here’s a tip: In addition to getting a center piece, make sure you also get one of the ends. It’s more bacony than cheesy, and it’s gluttonous.

The meats of my labor

The meats of my labor

Everyone who had it loved it, and I offer my sincere thanks to SugarFire for inspiring this slight variation on their idea. Make this – you’ll not regret it.

I hope you had a wonderful and save Independence Day, full of beers, meat, family, and fireworks.

Happy 4th from Webster Groves

Happy 4th from Webster Groves

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Stuffed Jalapeno Smoked Fatty

Spring is back in STL, which means I’m not grilling/smoking in snow or ice anymore.

On my list of BBQ dishes is the smoked fatty. Some Google searches will reveal that a fatty is a weave of bacon that’s wrapped around a meatloaf that’s stuffed with something. There are as many fatty recipes online as stars in the sky.

I like stuffed jalapenos, so…

Stuffed jalapenos

Stuffed jalapenos

… why not stick them in a fatty?

I took a 50/50 mix of pork salsiccia and ground chuck, plus an egg, totaling just under 2 lbs, and used 1/2 of it to make a boat atop my bacon weave. My stuffed peppers went into that boat.

Pork belly weave

Pork belly weave

Soon to be wrapped...

Stuffed peppers, stuffed in meat…

The boat was itself covered in the rest of the meat.

About to wrap

About to wrap

Once wrapped up, the whole thing was over three pounds. 1 lb. of pork sausage, 1 lb. of ground beef, 1 lb. of bacon, over half a brick of cream cheese (1/3 the fat!), and 5 veggies for health. This is not, uh, what’s the phrase… not good for you. But it’s hopefully yummy.

Maybe all the fat is why it's called a fatty?

Maybe all the fat is why it’s called a fatty?

 

Indirect heat in the Weber 22″ grill with a few hickory chunks.

Fatty fatty fat

Fatty fatty fat

After barely an hour, the bacon was nicely charred, so it got a 180 degree turn.

It's hard not to pick charred bacon chips off of this

It’s hard not to pick charred bacon chips off of this

After about 3 hours total, I pulled it and was ready to carve.

Fully smoked datty

Fully smoked fatty

A nice slice of fat(ty)

A nice slice of fat(ty)

I got a nice pink from the smoke and bacon, plus the meat stayed juicy from all the basting provided by the pork grease from the bacon. For my first effort, it wasn’t too bad. Probably just a little overdone, and maybe peppers and cream cheese wasn’t the best choice, but it was still pretty good. My picky son who likes some BBQ crushed it.

I’ll try another one soon… maybe mushroom and swiss? Philly cheese?

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Stuffed Smoked Wrapped Boneless Beef Short Ribs

Having not experimented with anything off the cuff recently, an affordable package of boneless beef short ribs adjacent in the store to the brisket I was planning to smoke anyway presented me with an opportunity.

Each rather large short rib, slightly smaller than my clenched fist, was lightly rolled with a rub comprising: brown sugar, paprika, garlic salt, seasoned salt, powdered sage, cayenne pepper, ground coffee, and coarse black pepper.

Those and the three medium sized brisket pieces (having received the same treatment) were put on the 55 gallon drum smoker, fat sides up, with ample hickory smoke for seven hours at about 190-200 Fahrenheit.

Big Blue back in action!

Big Blue back in action!

I've got all day to smoke these. On the grill at 8am!

I’ve got all day to smoke these. On the grill at 8am!

Hours and hours later (7, to be exact), and a few beers later (not quite 7), the ribs had smoked thoroughly.

Brisket looks pretty good, too.

Brisket looks pretty good, too.

Not even close to done, though

Not even close to done, though

A BBQ ace told me to cook beef with the fat up so as to continuously baste the meat. I never flipped them or the brisket pieces, yet each time I checked on the meat or added coals and wood, it still looked damp from the molten beef fat softening and oozing over the sides of the flesh.

Having learned from my past mistakes, I eased up on both the amount of brown sugar in the rub (by ratio) and the amount of rub total on the meat. This left less char and permitted more smoke penetration.

I pulled the short ribs to let them rest for about 10 minutes on a cutting board. Why rest? So that the hot and excited juices don’t escape and dry out the meat!

Resting. Exhausted from a long day of smoking.

Resting. Exhausted from a long day of smoking.

Once relaxed, the ribs were sliced substantially in half, leaving a hinge at the back.

Tender; smells great

Tender; smells great

I had a half carton of blue cheese left over from some steak salad I had made a few days before, and I put half of my remainder inside each short rib.

Feeling stuffed...

Feeling stuffed…

And since I like to smoke a bunch of bacon as a brisket sandwich topping, why not wrap each of these with three large thick cut slices of pork bacon. Sorry to my Hebrew readership, but this went from unkosher to exceptionally unkosher in just minutes.

Oy vey

Oy vey

Back on the UDS for two more hours of hickory smoke at about 200 degrees.

The finished product is worth the fuss.

9+ hours of effort. Will it be worth it?

9+ hours of effort. Will it be worth it?

Each short rib gave me 3 or 4 generous slices for the in-law family pre-JV football dinner.

Yes, it was worth it!

Yes, it was worth it!

The beef was incredibly tender and had solid smoke color penetration. The blue cheese was present in just the right amount. Unfortunately, the bacon didn’t quite crisp, but no one complained. My father in law said, “Simpson, you should enter this in a BBQ contest. It was great.” As I basked in this compliment, he added, “Although I do love anything with cheese in it.” I’ll take what I can get.

This was a super-simple recipe. Anyone can make this if you have all damn day to cook. Luckily I could work from home that day and I have a large upright smoker. Forgiving that, you could probably make this on a Weber kettle with a keen eye towards temperature control.  Regardless, simple technique and ingredients made a succulent experiment.

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