Archive for July, 2012
In case the three or four weeks of 100+ degree days wasn’t clear enough… summer is upon us. And, while summer is my least-favorite season, I do enjoy the memories of summer barbecues and weekends at the lake from when I was a kid. I like having those connections… maybe that’s one of the reasons I’m kind of a foodie… every meal, every ingredient sparks a connection to some memory or nostalgic feeling. I like that. And I like iced tea. I remember my pap used to put out a pitcher of sun tea at the lake cottage when we were younger… put it out, let it steep, bring it in. So, in the name of resurrecting summer time memories (and because I have a taste for iced tea), I put out my own pitcher of sun tea today… only with a twist.
Making sun tea is easy… just take your one gallon glass jug (or a translucent milk jug… or some other closed, clear glass or plastic pitcher), fill it with hot water from the sink, tie five Lipton tea bags together, plop the tea bags in the water in the jug, and let it sit in direct sunlight to steep for three(ish) hours. Just for something different, I walked over to our container herb garden, grabbed about 30 mint leaves off our mint plant, crushed them in my hand and added them to the tea as I brought it outside… voila, mint sun tea. For a little added oomph, you could use loose-leaf tea… like an oolong, a nice green tea, or maybe even milk tea… but, the Lipton bags will work just fine, as well. The mint simple syrup I keep in the fridge is a great (yet potent) sweetener… orange blossom or wildflower honey would be nice, too.
And there’s another way to use the herbs we’re growing!
Spent the Fourth of July hanging out at my buddy’s dad’s and stepmom’s place… it was awesome. Some good beers, good food, good company, fun with the herd of dogs… it was perfect. Coincidentally, my buddy and his dad have been embroiled in a alittle battle of who can make the best sausage fatty. Knowing the smoker would be out for today’s festivities, they decided to continue their fatty cook-off, and invited me to make a fatty, as well.
What’s a fatty, you ask? Well… it’s basically a log of meat goodness, stuffed with whatever your little culinary heart desires. Seriously… a log of meat… then, you wrap that meat log in bacon. If your brain didn’t just explode, I’m revoking your man card.
They’re ridiculously easy to make, too… the hardest part is weaving the bacon wrap. But, once you get the hang of how to do it, it’s not that hard. I’m not going to explain how, because I think this link from the Hog Blog does a great job explaining how to weave bacon strips.
So, once you got the idea of how to weave a mat of bacon, go ahead and get one made on a double-wide sheet of plastic wrap. Once you have that, spread a thin layer of sausage meat onto of the bacon. I went with brat meat… just sliced open the casing, squeezed out the meat, and patted it down into a thin layer. Remember, this is going to get rolled onto itself, so the meat doesn’t have to be incredibly thick. You can go with sweet or spicy Italian sausage, breakfast sausage, salisccia (“sahl-see-tsa”… a St. Louis-style sausage that taste like a mix between a brat and an Italian sausage), kielbasa… whatever you want. It’s you fatty… do with it as you please.
Now, this is where the fun starts… you get to layer on the stuff you want stuffed inside. I went with cheddar cheese, chopped onion, minced garlic, fresh chive and parsley from our container herb garden, and prosciutto. My buddy used salisccia and stuffed his with red bell peppers, sliced onions, sliced baby portobello muchrooms, minced garlic, and provel cheese. My buddy’s dad went with ground turkey in place of the sausage, some pounded out chicken breasts, cilantro, basil, onions, mushrooms, and garlic. I’ve seen fatties stuffed with asparagus, ham, other types of peppers, jalapenos, any types of cheese… you can stick with a theme… like “Mediterranean”, or Italian… or Philly cheese steak… or just throw in whatever you have or whatever you think sounds like it’d be good stuffed inside a log of meat. Go for it.
Once you have it all laid out, it’s time for the hardest part of this whole process… rolling it up. It’s tough, but I’ve consumed enough burritos from Qdoba and Chipotle to have a handle on the process of rolling up something stuffed with way too much to seemingly fit in the wraper. Use the plastic wrap to help… you kind of roll it up, while pushing the meat log back on itself… like rolling a burrito.
Here’s a visual aid to help you understand the process… wrapping starts at 2:53…
That guy made the meat log separately, then wrapped it in his bacon… like a 2 step process. I went with a one step process and built my fatty on top of my bacon. Whatever floats your boat.
Anyways, roll it up using the plastic wrap (without wrapping the plastic wrap into the fatty), then use the plastic wrap to wrap up the fatty and mold it a little more. Throw it on a baking sheet and tuck in the chill box to firm up.
After a few hours (or overnight), unwrap the fatty and smoke it… 300 degrees for about 4 hours (or until the internal temp is over 145 deg F… or 180 deg F if you fatty has poultry in it). Yes, that’s a little warmer than most smoking methods… but you want the bacon to crisp up a little but. You could grill your fatty over indirect heat, as well… or maybe even bake it in the oven (with a pan underneath to catch any drippings). But, smoking it is ideal… mainly because smoked meats are way more awesome.
And that’s pretty much it… take the fatty off the smoker when it’s reached its proper internal temperature… let it rest for 10-15 minutes… slice and serve. Bacon-wrapped meat log… smoked… a little slice of heave, if you ask me.