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Everything’s better with bacon

Barbecue is now!
By Paul Kirk CWC, Ph.B., B.S.A.S.
Kansas City Baron of BBQ
Barbecue Guru
Order of the Magic Mop
Ambassador of BBQ
Certified Master BBQ Judge

Since I don’t know what recipes to go to and taste or recreate, I feel like it’s bacon time…but it’s always bacon time.  Bacon cooked on a smoker is outstanding to say the least!

First let’s start with the “Rules of Bacon.”  I don’t know who came up with this, but I would like to give them credit for it.

• There must always be bacon in the refrigerator.
• There does not exist a food that does not go well with bacon.
• There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who like bacon and those who will be used as fodder in the case of a Zombie Apocalypse.
• Even Pigs like bacon — Fact.
• Crispy and chewy are both acceptable ways to cook bacon.  Thou shalt not discriminate.
• Ninety percent of the world’s problems can be solved by cooking more bacon.
• Bacon presents exactly zero health risks.  “Shut Up.”
• If your computer is antiquated and slow, you can feed it bacon through the floppy drive to make it run faster.
• Meals without bacon are rarely worth eating.
• When given a breathalyzer, the number they give you is your BAC.  This is short for “bacon” and is equal to the number of slices of bacon you should eat divided by 100.
• Thou shalt always consume bacon on the Sabbath and the Mondath  and the Tuesdath and etc...
• Bacon gets you almost anything.

Enough of this foolishness on to some recipes.

These recipes can be done in your smoker and are a lot tastier or you can do them in your oven.  If the recipe calls for a sheet pan covered with foil is generally for the oven.  If I do them in my Lang I use a cake rack for the ease of doing several pounds at a time.
This is one of my favorites that I do for catering.   If your using the backing or cooling rack you don’t have to drain off the bacon grease.
Praline Pig Candy
1 lbs. thick sliced bacon cut in half, length wise
2 c. dark brown sugar
1/4 c. powdered pecans
2 Tbsp. rub

Preheat your smoker or oven to 350° degrees F.  Cover a baking sheet with foil, spray with cooking spray and set aside.

Combine the brown sugar, pecans and rub on a shallow plate. Place the bacon on the baking sheet, and bake for about 15 minutes. Drain, sprinkle the brown sugar mixture over the top of the bacon and bake another 5 to 7 minutes or until sugar has melted and bacon is crisp.  Makes about 32 pieces.

Here’s one that’s a little spicier.  

Spicy Pig Candy
1 c. packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 lbs. thick-sliced bacon cut in half (length wise)

Preheat oven to 350º degrees F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place a baking rack on the foil. In a shallow bowl, combine the sugar, chili powder, cumin, coriander and cayenne pepper. Press each side of the bacon into the mixture to coat heavily. Arrange, barely touching, on the rack over the foil. Bake 12 minutes. Turn the bacon over. Cook 10 minutes longer, until the bacon is crisp and deep brown. Cool on rack briefly before serving.  Makes about 32 pieces.

Of course, there’s the Bacon Explosion that Jason Day of Burnt Fingers BBQ made famous.  The BurnCo BBQ in Tulsa calls them a Big Phaty.

Bacon Explosion
2 lbs. thick-cut sliced bacon
1 1/2 lbs. Italian sausage, casings removed
3 Tbsp. barbecue rub
3/4 c. barbecue sauce

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. 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.

Preheat your oven to 225º degrees F 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.
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.

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.

Roll sausage toward you, this time with bacon weave, until it is completely wrapped. Turn it so seam faces down. Roll should be about 2 to 3 inches thick. Sprinkle with remaining barbecue rub.

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. Yield: 10 or more servings.

These are outstanding on a steak, chops, chicken, as a side with sautéed mushrooms, or with other veggies.

Bacon Glazed Grilled Onions
2 large sweet onions cut in wedges
8 thick hickory-smoked bacon slices, cut in half
2 Tbsp. light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. molasses

Wrap onion wedges with bacon; secure with long wooden picks. Place in a large shallow dish.  Combine sugar, vinegar, and molasses; drizzle over onion wedges. Cover and chill 1 hour.  Remove onion wedges from marinade, reserving marinade.  
Grill, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat (350º degrees F. to 400º degrees F, or just watch every 10 minutes over coals) for 20 minutes or until onion wedges are crisp-tender, turning and basting occasionally with reserved marinade.

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Grilled Mahi Mahi with Tomatillo Salsa

Fire Up The Grill
By Steve Collins
The Home Chef

Here’s an easy fall dish for the grill. Use any firm-fleshed white fish for this; halibut or sea bass also work well. You can make great fish tacos with these or serve with your favorite rice and some refried or black beans. If you can’t find fresh tomatillos (they look like green tomatoes with a paper husk), you can also use canned ones. You’ll find them in the ethnic foods or Mexican foods section of most supermarkets.

12 oz. mahi mahi fillet
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. lime zest
Freshly ground black pepper

Prepare a hot fire. Rub olive oil on the fish and season with lime zest, salt and pepper. Put the fish on the grill and cook for 3 minutes on a side (internal temperature of 160°). Remove from the grill and serve with the tomatillo salsa.

Tomatillo Salsa
1 lb. tomatillos
1 Poblano pepper
1 clove garlic
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 Tbsp. cilantro leaves

Remove the papery husk from the tomatillos and wash off the sticky covering. Remove the seedpod and stem from the poblano pepper and cut it in half. Roast the tomatillo, poblano, and garlic under the broiler until they char (about five minutes on each side). Put all ingredients in the blender (including lime juice and cilantro) and pulse to a puree. Serve with the grilled fish.

Serves 2.

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The Southern Girls BBQ Roadshow Recipes from the Road

By Vernee Green-Myers
The Southern Girls BBQ Roadshow

I met Michelle Lackey with Hog It Up BBQ at the Safeway BBQ Battle in Washington, DC.  If you don’t know Michelle, you may not know she’s from “The Great Down Under.”  So here’s a recipe from the road with a bit of an international flair all the way from Australia!  
This month’s recipe is….

Marshmallow Pavlova
By Michelle Lackey
Bluemont, VA (by way of Australia)

4 egg whites
1 c. white sugar
1 tsp. vinegar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. powdered sugar
Fruit of your choice
Beat egg whites until soft peaks form; add 1/3 cup of the sugar, beat until well dissolved; gradually add the remaining sugar, beating well after each addition.  When the sugar is dissolved, add the vanilla and vingegar, beat 1 minute only to combine the mixture.

Line a cookie sheet with lightly greased greaseproof paper, dust lightly with cornflour (or line tray with foil).  Mark a 7 inch diameter circle on the tray.  Spoon the meringue into the circle, spread to edge of the circle, building up the sides to approximately 3 inches.

Carefully smooth the sides and top of the pavlova with either a knife or spatula.  Bake in a very slow oven (250°F) for approximately 1 ½ hours; the pavlova should be firm to the touch.  Turn off the heat and cool in the over with the door ajar.

Whip cream and powdered sugar until soft peaks form and spoon over the top of the pavlova.  Decorate with your favorite fruit.

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Ben Ford serves up Big Flavor with Taming the Feast

By Kent “The Deck Chef”
& Ally Whitaker

What does a family love of working with tools and fine craftsmanship have to do with cooking? The answer comes in the form of a new cookbook. Chef Ben Ford has taken on outdoor cooking in an adventurous manner! His new book, Taming the Feast – Ben Ford’s Field Guide to Adventurous Cooking, is a visual treat for foodies.

The book is packed with amazing photography, recipe ideas, and outdoor cooking information. Ford, with the help of cookbook author Carolynn Carreno, has served up a hearty book that’s bold with flavor and craftsmanship.

Inside Taming the Feast
Taming the Feast
is broken down into menu style sections. These sections are packed with tons of information as each menu item is described in detail and tied into other dishes on the menu. Ford offers each meal as a type of family and friend celebration!  Menus, number of servings, and cooking methods, are done on a grand scale. Taming the Feast is packed with things that you can adapt for your own party or cookout.
So how does the flavor and craftsmanship question come into play? Ford uses some of the traits he shares with his father, when it comes to working with tools and work ethic, to show readers some really neat ways to build some homemade cooking projects such as a roasting shed and clambake barrel.

The Recipes and Ingredients
Recipes in Taming the Feast are rooted in traditional barbecue and grilling flavor. The dishes are all really normal menu items at first glance. A grilled meat, a salad, some veggies, seafood, barbecue beans, and such.  Then you notice the full recipe titles and flavor pairings. Why make deviled eggs when you can make Deviled Eggs with Smoked Lake Trout?

Why make bratwurst when you can grill flavor packed Beer Braised or Wisconsin Style brats? If you’re thinking about grilling some pork… why not a whole hog? Are you making potato salad? Then why not make String Bean and Potato Salad? Ford takes the opportunity in his book to tweak your grilling and barbecue imagination by expanding your list of possible ingredients. There are even suggestions for your grilled leftovers.


A Love of Tools and Building
I enjoyed that recipes and color photographs are often accompanied with doodle style drawings including the illustrated project section. It’s a combination that illustrates many of Ford’s outdoor cooking ideas. It’s exactly how my dad and grandfather, a steelworker and carpenter, taught me how to build things.

Here’s how I imagine a conversation with Ford going while grilling. Ford and I are grilling and having a cold beverage. He show’s me a photo on his phone of a handmade smoker that he built from scratch. “All you have to do is build this,” Ford says. I respond with a stare and say, “How?”
Ford would then take a sip of his cold beverage, wipe his face with a sleeve, and grab a napkin and draw me a sketch while talking me through the process. At that point I simply reply, “Cool!”

Ford’s love of building things, and work ethic, is something he credits to his parents, his father is actor Harrison Ford. In an interview with Chrissy Iley of Daily Mail UK, Chef Ford says that when he was young his dad was just starting out as an actor, but he was already an accomplished carpenter with an eye for detail.

“My father was doing a lot of carpentry back then, and he only started to find success as I was becoming a teenager,” Chef Ford said. “Dad was always fixing up the house, and he’d often take me to building sites, show me the floor joists, how everything fitted together. Seeing how meticulous he was at his craft has stayed with me as a chef.”

Family Praise – a Basis for Flavor
Ford also praises the cooking abilities of his entire family starting with his mother, Mary Marquardt, and her delicious Roasted Chicken according to the Daily News article. He also gives culinary praise to his step-dad, director Bob Becker, who loved to cook. And above all; Chef Ford let’s readers know his wife and two sons are inspirations in just about everything he does… and cooks.
Chef Ben Ford’s cookbook Taming the Feast offers readers big flavor, tasty recipes, colorful imagery, as well as fun reading. It’s one of the books on my shelf that’s guaranteed to have some barbecue sauce stained finger prints left on the pages.

Kent Whitaker is the author of eight cookbooks, ranging from hometown cooking with a culinary history twist to titles for NASCAR tailgating and barbecue. He has also written and illustrated two books for children, is a trained USCG AUXCHEF, and is the winner of the Emeril Live / Food Network Barbecue Contest. His latest book, Bullets and Bread,  is in bookstores nationally and is also available online at, as well as at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon.

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