This week's edition of Cooking With Fighters comes to us straight out of the suburbs of New Jersey. UFC lightweight contender, Jim Miller is an avid hunter and gourmand. Of particular interest to him are the joys of cooking via smokers and BBQ grills. In this feature, Miller treats us to an exceptional recipe aptly named the Bacon Explosion.
I think it should be mentioned that Jim Miller is a hard core when it comes to outdoor cooking. He shoots his own game, grinds his own sausage, and cures his own bacon. Furthermore, he goes the extra mile in that he brews his own craft beers. The final testament to his badassery is that he made his own grill. I realize that this isn't the answer to the national debt, but it's pretty awesome in and of itself, and it has a name, Russell the Mussel.
The recipe came from one he saw online, and since it involved bacon and sausage, he tweaked it and made it his own. Without any further ado, I present to you Jim Miller's Bacon Explosion:
*Images courtesy of Jim Miller*
The sausage is made from a black bear my dad shot in the fall. We made the bacon ourselves from a pork belly we bought. That was a fresh sausage and the way did is when we butchered the bear, we cut some of it up into smaller, more manageable pieces and ran them through a grinder. From there, we mixed in our seasonings; salt, pepper, sage, rosemary, thyme and some pepper flakes. You run it through the grinder again after that, but it's important to partially freeze it before running it through the second time because it just turns into a mess if you don't.
The recipe from there is super easy. You take your bacon and you weave it together like lattice. Depending on how large the meat that will go inside it, is how large you'll need to configure your lattice sheet. For the ones pictured, I think they were about 6" x 6". You add a little dry rub seasoning on the bacon lattice, then pack about a pound of the sausage packed into a firm patty and put it on the lattice with a little BBQ sauce.
Now, we like our bacon, so I fried up some triple smoked bacon, which to the uninitiated is bacon to the 3rd power. What they do there is cold smoke the bacon twice before they hot smoke it. It's amazing and runs about $16/lb. So once that's fried up, I crumble some over the top of the sausage and then I close up the lattice by very gingerly rolling it up tight. Add a little more BBQ sauce on top and throw it on the smoker for 3 hours at 225 degrees.
I was born and raised in New Jersey, but I have a Southern man's soul, so for side dishes I like cole slaw, baked beans, homemade mac & cheese. Every cookout we have, my parents make potato salad and it's always phenomenal. We wash down a meal like this with a home brew. My favorite is an Oktoberfest. The best beer that Dan and I have ever made was an Oktoberfest. Of course it was one of those batches where we kind of screwed it up a little bit, and it ended up coming out absolutely perfect. Now we've got to go through the process of our fuck-up to make the beer like it was [laughs].
I'm a Miller and we're a little bit of Redneck, so I made my own smoker. I took a 55 gallon oil drum and welded a 35 gallon drum on the side of it for a fire box. It was a really fun project and it works well. It's ugly; it's the Miller colors, which are rust and black [laughs].
Usually, I'm using hickory, but I do like to use some apple from time to time. I've got an apple tree in my yard, so I'm always collecting the fallen limbs and storing them in my shed for BBQ purposes. Every time I have to mow the lawn, I have to move a big pile of wood just to get the lawnmower out [laughs]. I'm protecting it for a big night BBQ for the family.
You can follow Jim via his Twitter account, @JimMiller_155