published Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Braly: Cooks can score with Bacon Explosion for Super Bowl parties

Super Bowl parties are all about excess. Sunday's championship game, when the New England Patriots meet the New York Giants, has been building up for months, and football fans want food that has some gusto -- pizza, chili, barbecue and wings.

Mini quiches may be delicious, but they're just a little too adorable for a football feast. And after a month of dieting to make up for holiday indulgences, it's time to let loose for just one day before the all-out assault on fat as we approach spring break and swimsuit season.

"People tend to forget their New Year's resolutions for the day," said Greg Vandiver, owner of Fanatics Sports Bar on East Brainerd Road, where hundreds of bottles and mugs will cross the bar, along with every imaginable bar food.

If you're watching the game at home, this recipe for Bacon Explosion is worth a look. Be sure to do your prep work early, then you can cook it during the first half and surprise your guests during halftime.



Bacon Explosion

2 pounds thick-cut sliced bacon

11/2 pounds Italian sausage, casings removed

3 tablespoons barbecue rub

3/4 cup 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.

Heat oven to 225 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 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 F 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. Makes 10 or more servings.

Note: For ultra decadence, serve slices on a big biscuit or Texas toast with a little spicy mustard.



From excess to romance: If you don't make dinner reservations for Valentine's Day now, you might be out of luck since it's one of the top dining-out events of the year. Most all restaurants will have at least one special item on their menu in observance of this day for love, but a few that will be pulling out all the stops. Here are some suggestions.

  • Broad Street Grille executive chef Matt Pinner and his talented culinary team will serve couples a delectable buffet meal on three dates: Friday, Feb. 10, Saturday, Feb. 11, and Tuesday, Feb. 14. The meal starts with such delicious choices as house-smoked shrimp, beet gazpacho shots and classic Caesar salad. Selections for the main course range from beef tenderloin and grilled chicken to chorizo-crusted Gulf grouper. Follow up with an array of decadent desserts. The price is $80 per couple. Reservations are a must and may be made by calling 424-3700.

  • Back Inn Cafe, in the charming Bluff View Art District, will host its annual Valentine's Wine Dinner on Saturday, Feb. 11, and Tuesday, Feb. 14. The six-course meal will feature a spectacular selection of items from the restaurant's award-winning menu with wines paired with each course. The price is $75 per person. For reservations, call 265-5033, ext. 4.

  • St. John's Restaurant, often touted as the city's most romantic restaurant, will offer its Valentine's dinners on Friday, Feb. 10, Saturday, Feb. 11, Monday, Feb. 13, and Tuesday, Feb. 14. In addition to its a la carte menu, from which you can choose from an abundance of fresh seasonal selections, owner/chef Daniel Lindley and his team will offer a chef's four-course tasting menu. It's sure to be special. Lindley is the only chef in town to be a James Beard Award nominee. Call 266-4400 for details and reservations.

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