I Cannot Believe I Did That… Vol. 1

Bacon Explosion

What do you think when you see the above?  Do you start to gag?  or Does your mouth start to water?  Herein lies the difference between myself and my husband…  He saw the following article in the New York Times, and immediately sent me the link, as did several of my other friends.  I then went to the original source to find out WHY-O-WHY someone came up with this idea.  Of course, I saw the potential fun in the challenge, yet I had a difficult time getting beyond the bacon-on-bacon-on-pork 5000 calorie, 500 fat gram excessiveness.

But I had to weigh my own girlyness against the fact that this was one of the first times RJ was really excited about my having a blog.  The other time was when his very own recipe was featured here on the site.  I had the bacon explosion out of my mind until a trip to the grocery store lead me past a package of uncased sausage meat.  ::Sigh:: the stars were aligned.   I vowed to hold myself to only one pound of bacon, and purchased the pork.

The first step here was to make the bacon weave.  This was my favorite part.  I’ve never made a lattice work pie, or basketweave icing, but bacon I’m familiar with, and the weave I can do:

bacon explosion weaveNext the “recipe” called for a particular brand of barbecue rub (coincidentally, the one the inventors are selling!) so I grabbed one can from a 4-tin spice gift pack which said “pork rib rub” — two out of three ain’t bad!  I sprinkled it over the weave.  May I interject, at this moment, that I might be more embarrassed to have the above weave in my house than that other kind of weave on my head?  Yeah.


So… we’re done with the weave, and then we put sausage on top.  Then we add more bacon.

bacon-with-sausageThen more rub and barbecue sauce.  Intelligent woman that I am, I began this whole process on a sheet of plastic wrap.  Which allowed me to enter a zen state and imagine that I was rolling sushi…

bacon-sushiI got a very tight roll this way, and didn’t bacon-up my cutting board too badly.  The result looked pretty good, we thought:

bacon-ready-to-goThen we put it in the fridge to keep its shape until the next day, Super Bowl Sunday.  Which gave RJ enough time to read through the whole article.  He now wanted a smoker.  Yes, it can also be baked, but RJ hears grill and starts in with the Tim Allen AR, AR, ARRRR.  He ran to Home Depot to buy a smoker box and hickory chips.  We ended up with chips from a Jack Daniels barrel.  Hey, it worked!  After 2 hours, here’s what we ended up with:

bacon-explosionDon’t mind his dopey expression — he’s very VERY excited.  Then, we had to glaze the bacon explosion.  We chose our absolute favorite barbecue sauce, Cincinnati’s own Montgomery Inn.  With a lovely gloss, we began to dig in:

bacon-platedThe taste?  Well, we decided that we didn’t put enough barbecue sauce inside or enough spice rub on the outside.  It basically tasted like pork on pork.  Which some people (RJ) like.  I had a bite, and it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t enough to make me to continue to eat the pork-on-pork!  Whatever, at least I can say I did it – the BACON EXPLOSION! POW! :

Blog Bacon Explosion

Risotto with Sausages

I have a wonderful story to take us into the holiday season.  It begins on a dark and stormy night.  RJ had a late meeting and I was staying with my parents to avoid the long drive in the rain.  cookbooksA colleague of RJ’s, Cameron, found out that his plane was cancelled due to the weather, and RJ offered him the couch at our condo for the evening.  Though I was not there to meet Cameron, I was apparently quite the topic of conversation.  Cameron took one look at my shelves upon shelves of cookbooks and back issues of food magazines, and began to question RJ about his wife the cook. (please note that the accompanying picture shows only about a quarter of the total space taken up by these books!)

RJ has never been wildly enthusiastic about my ridiculous number of cooking tomes, but he is always supportive when the food comes out!  He must, however, have said some good things about me, because about a week after Cameron’s visit we received a package in the mail.  Cameron had sent me a new cookbook for my collection!  His note indicated that it was one of his favorites and that he was happy to share it with someone who clearly would appreciate it.  

I found that package to be one of the most heart-warming things I had ever received.  Never having met Cameron, I was quite surprised that he would send me a gift, let alone such a thoughtful one!  I was tremendously touched.  All the more so when I tried my first recipe from the book and realized that it was just as much of a gem as he said.  So, thank you Cameron.  You’re welcome at our house anytime!

Risotto with Sausages, adapted from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (serves 6)

2 1/2 c. beef broth
2 1/2 c. water or chicken broth
4 Tbs. butter, divided
1 medium onion, cut in half and sliced thin (or minced fine for a much quicker caramelization)
2 Tbs. oil
3/4 lb. mild, sweet pork sausage, cut into disks about 1/3 inch thick
1/2 c. dry white wine
2 c. Arborio rice
Black pepper
1/2 c. freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese


Bring the broth and the water or chicken stock to a very slow, steady simmer in a medium saucepan. Melt 3 Tbs. butter in a dutch oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and cook until the onion becomes a deep caramel color (15-35 minutes depending on the size of the sliced/diced onions). Do not let the onions burn – make sure to stir frequently!

Remove half of the onions to a small dish and add 2 Tbs. oil to the rest on the stove. Add the sliced sausage. Cook until the sausage is browned well on both sides, then add the wine, stirring to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. When the wine has bubbled away completely [don’t you just love how Marcella writes a cookbook??], add the rice, stirring quickly and thoroughly until the grains are coated well.


Add 1/2 c. of simmering broth mixture to the rice, and cook, stirring constantly, until all the liquid is gone. “You must never stop stirring,” says Marcella. When there is no more liquid in the rice, add another 1/2 c. of broth, continuing always to stir. Begin to taste the rice after 20 min. of cooking. Finish cooking the rice with broth or, if you run out, with water. It is done when it is tender, but firm to the bite. As it approaches that stage, gradually reduce the amount of liquid you’re adding. The final risotto should be served slightly moist but not runny.

Off the heat, season to taste with pepper, 1 Tbs. butter, the grated parmesan and the caramelized onions you set aside earlier. You may also choose to stir in 1 Tbs. finely chopped sage. Taste and see if you need any salt – usually the parmesan does the trick.

And to Cameron, if you’re out there reading, this is all that was left: