STEP 1: To kick off the construction of this pork medley you’ll need to create a bacon basket weave using approximately 1 pound of raw bacon. The number of strips used in the weave will depend on the size and type of bacon you choose to use. Oscar Mayer’s Hearty Thick Cut Bacon comes out to be a 5x5 bacon weave every time, but depending on the brand you choose to use you may have to include a few more slices to create an even bacon weave. To create the weave, place 5 strips of bacon side by side. Next, fold back the 2nd and 4th strips and lay another strip of bacon perpendicular to the first layer across the 1st, 3rd, and 5th strips. Unfold the 2nd and 4th back into their original position to create an over/under pattern. Next, fold back the 1st, 3rd, and 5th strips and place another slice of bacon perpendicular to the first layer across the 2nd and 4th strips. Unfold the 1st, 3rd, and 5th strips into their original position. Take note of the alternating pattern that has been created. Repeat this process for the rest of the weave.
STEP 2: The next step is to add a layer of barbecue seasoning on top of the bacon weave. Our original recipe calls for 1 tbsp of Burnt Finger BBQ’s pork rub (see resource section), but you can substitute any rub you’d like. Just make sure to use a rub that’s not overly salty. Bacon already contains a hefty dose of salt, so it’s rather easy to overseason with a sodium-heavy rub. Most grocery stores will carry rubs labeled “Sweet,” but the best way to test the salt content is to taste the rub. If salt dominates the flavor profile, then you should look for a different rub or sweeten it by adding 1 tsp brown sugar to 2 tsp rub. Once you have your rub picked out (or doctored), evenly sprinkle 1 tbsp across the bacon weave.
STEP 3: Now that the bacon is well seasoned, it’s time to add a layer of sausage. The best method for creating the sausage layer is to place two pounds of bulk Italian sausage inside of a gallon-sized Ziploc bag. Using a rolling pin, evenly press the sausage to the edges of the bag, creating a uniform patty. To remove the sausage from the bag, use scissors or a knife to cut along both the side edges of the bag. Gently remove the sausage patty, keeping it intact, and place on top of the bacon weave. If there is more than 1/2 inch of bacon showing around the edges of the sausage layer, expand the sausage layer by pressing the edges outward. Ideally, your sausage layer should be approximately 1/2 inch thick to create the pinwheel effect seen in the final product.
STEP 4: In a skillet, fry the remaining strips of bacon to your liking. This should be roughly one pound of raw bacon, but it could be more or less depending on how much was used in your bacon weave. This step is also where you can add an element of personal preference. If you like soft bacon, make it soft. If you like crunchy bacon, make it crunchy. If you like your bacon burnt to hell so the smoke detectors go off, then burn it to hell so the smoke detectors go off. These fried strips are going to be a major part of the inner flavor of our Bacon Explosion, so cook them your favorite way. Regardless of how well done you like yours, you’ll need to crumble or chop the cooked strips into bite-size pieces and place on top of the sausage layer. (Note: It’s okay, and encouraged, to snack on these pieces while you’re chopping/crumbling. Just keep in mind that once those cooked bacon morsels touch the raw sausage, you’ll need to resist all temptation to nibble. Raw meat can carry food-borne illness, so we definitely want to cook the pork to a safe temperature before indulging. This bit of self–restraint can and will be difficult, but hospital trips are no fun, so stay strong.)
STEP 5: Since this is a BBQ recipe, we need to add another layer of BBQ flavor. Drizzle 1/2 cup of Burnt Finger BBQ sauce (see resource section) all over the top of the cooked bacon pieces. Just like the rub, this is an ingredient that can be substituted for personal preference. While the Burnt Finger BBQ products are the official flavors of The Bacon Explosion, any locally available sauce will work just as well.
STEP 6: Now comes the fun part. Carefully separate the front edge of the sausage layer from the bacon weave and begin rolling backward. You want to include all layers except the bacon weave in your roll. Try and keep the sausage as tight as possible and be sure to release any air pockets that form. Once the sausage is fully rolled up, pinch together the seams and ends to seal all the bacon goodness inside. This will also prevent the BBQ sauce from oozing out as it heats up during the cooking process.
STEP 7: At this point you can start to see the final shape of The Bacon Explosion, but we’re missing one key item. To complete the construction process, roll the sausage chub forward, completely wrapping it in the bacon weave. Make sure it sits with the seam facing downward so that the weight of the sausage roll will keep the bacon weave in place.
STEP 8: Sprinkle 1 tbsp of Burnt Finger BBQ pork rub on the outside of the bacon weave, and now this bad boy is ready for the cooker. Smoke your Bacon Explosion over hickory wood at 225 degrees until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Normally this will take about 1 hour for each inch of thickness, but that could vary depending on how well you maintain your fire and also how many times you open the smoker to take a peek.
STEP 9: Once the Bacon Explosion is fully cooked, we need to add some finishing flavors. Remember the Burnt Finger BBQ sauce that we used for inner flavor? We’ll be using that same sauce to glaze the cooked bacon weave. Using a small clean brush, coat the entire surface of with a thin layer of sauce (approximate 1/2 cup). Sweet sauces are loaded with sugars, so they’ll give your Bacon Explosion a nice glossy finish. Spicy and vinegar-based sauces don’t contain as much sugar, so they won’t have that nice shiny look. To create the same effect, simply add 1 tbsp of honey to the 1/2 cup of sauce before glazing.
STEP 10: Using a sharp knife, slice the Bacon Explosion into 1/4- to 1/2-inch rounds to serve. If your roll was good and tight, you should now see a nice bacon pinwheel pattern throughout the sausage.