Monday, April 13, 2009


The other day I made THE BEST dinner for myself. It involved some cooked rice and barley, and some left-over taco meat, both of which needed to be used up. It also involved garlic, onion, olive oil, part of a red bell pepper and 2 eggs and a little cheese. It was so incredibly tasty I was in paroxysms of delight, probably wiggling like Juniper * with her rawhide. I wanted to reproduce this marvelous meal for Chuck Saturday night, since he had been at work the day I made it. I knew he would really like this.

Sadly, I didn't have all those nice leftovers anymore. We had to start from scratch on some things, and see what other left-overs we had. Chuck made a pot of rice and barley while I was at work on Friday. We had some roast pork from Sunday's dinner, and some new fresh local spinach and green onions from the Mennonite market. There were some zucchini slices in the freezer, and I splurged and got fresh mushrooms at the grocery store. They're local- Pennsylvania has a lot of mushroom farms.

I was really excited, thinking this meal would be even better.

Saturday evening I got ready to make this marvelous meal. I chopped up 3 cloves of garlic, 3 green onions and 6 mushrooms. I also cut up about 4 oz of roast pork slices into small bite-sized pieces.

I sauteed the onions and garlic in a little bit of olive oil. Next I was going to add the rice-barley mixture, and saute it to get a nice crispy texture.

I got the rice and barley mixture out of the refrigerator. As I was spooning it out into the skillet, something looked, not bad exactly, but unfortunate, about it- the barley seemed to be well cooked, but the rice had that raw appearance that means something is going to crunch unpleasantly when you bite down on it. (The only thing I can think of that's worse than the raw-rice-crunch is the I-just-bit-down-on-a -chunk-of-eggshell crunch.) I pointed this out to Chuck, and he said hmmmm, maybe instead of using a 1:2 ratio of rice/barley to water, he had used a 1:1.

Nothing to panic about, a mistake that anyone could make. We thought we could save it by cooking it a little longer, so the rice-barley went into the skillet with a cup of water. I cooked it until the crunchy-ness was gone. But because of the added water, we lost the crispy sauteed-in-olive oil texture. I figured that was OK- it would still taste delicious, the texture would just be a little different. I added the mushrooms, pork and the spinach, and kept sauteing.

I also added some salt, some Aleppo pepper from Penzeys and some Italian seasonings. Mostly basil and oregano.

The next step is what really makes the dish, in my opinion. I learned to love over easy eggs with rice when our Korean exchange student lived with us. I cracked the eggs in, let them set a little bit, and then scrambled the skillet.
WAIT- I forgot to add the zucchini! And they are still frozen! Well, we already lost the crunch factor, and I did want the zuc's in because they look so pretty. So I added them anyway, and kept on stirring. However, my eggs got cooked too much- this really needs to have runny yolk to be marvelous.

Finally I sprinkled a little grated cheddar over the top. Just because I like grated cheddar. This picture is really steamy.

And then we ate it. It was OK. Not marvelous, not even exceptional, just OK. The texture was risotto-like, not bad actually, but not what I was looking for. And it needed Tabasco Sauce.

The moral of this story? It's hard to cook the same things twice if you don't actually DO the same things? Naaah, can't be that!

*would I have rolled in it if I could have? Maybe- it was THAT GOOD!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Bacon Explosion Meatloaf- yet another post unsuitable for vegetarians!

Sometime around Superbowl Sunday, I saw news coverage of a culinary delight called the Bacon Explosion. This smoked sausage "fatty" was developed by a couple of Kansas City BBQ competitors, and as it's name suggests, consists of bacon, pork sausage and more bacon. I was intrigued, and sort of grossed out. I did some research and emailed the information to my husband, sons and one of my sisters.

The response from male family members was positive, from my sister, (a vegetarian) not so much. I believe the phrase "makes me want to puke" came up. However, despite the negative review from my sister, I knew I was going to have to make one of those.

I can never make anything as the recipe suggests. I love meatloaf sandwiches, and I decided this meat structure would work better for us as a meatloaf. I also hoped that the addition of beef and lamb would reduce the overall fattiness, especially since the meat we use is very lean.

I used 1 pound each ground lamb, pork sausage (around here, sausage is seasoned with salt and pepper and nothing else) and beef, plus 1 red onion, chopped coarsely. I seasoned with salt and pepper.

We wove a mat from 25 thick cut bacon slices. We worked on a sheet of wax paper.

Once the mat was woven, we spread the meatloaf mixture over it, and sprinkled some crispy fried bacon over the top.

We rolled the sausage up into a cylinder, and then wrapped the bacon mat around it. We did have to add a few bacon splices to some that didn't fit quite right.

We thought it looked great!

Chuck had started the charcoal earlier, and the smoker temperature was up to about 275 degrees. The meatloaf went in, with some hickory chips for flavor.

Stupidly, we didn't write down how long we cooked it- it was several hours. Probably 4. Neither do we remember the internal temp. But it was lovely and crispy on the outside.

I was hoping for more of a smoke ring, but it was delicious anyway.
We sliced it thin once it cooled a bit, and had meatloaf sandwiches with Gates and Sons barbecue sauce for lunch all week. There are a lot of good commercial sauces in Kansas City; Gates is what I grew up on and still my favorite.

Apparently the Bacon Explosion caught the imaginations of many- Google gave up lots of sites when I was searching. Here are just a few--

Here is a link to the creators of the Bacon Explosion and here is a news clip about it.

Here's another Youtube video about Bacon Explosions

And here is a different link.

Finally, for those vegetarians who want to emulate the meat eaters, here is a video making a Facon Explosion- with facon and fauxsage. Yum!The video has no sound between 2:51 and 3:41.