Never underestimate the power of bacon — or the Internet.
Two local barbecue-lovin’ guys have found themselves the toast of the bacon world thanks to a recipe calling for just two main ingredients: bacon (two pounds of it) and Italian sausage (two pounds of that). The sausage is wrapped in a basket-weaved blanket of bacon, and for good measure there’s even more bacon inside. Sweet KC-style sauce, too.
Then you smoke it. In a backyard smoker.
Aaron Chronister and Jason Day, who compete in barbecue circles as Burnt Finger BBQ, call this meat missile “Bacon Explosion.” And explode it has: first online (it helps that Chronister is an Internet marketer), then Wednesday on the cover of The New York Times’ food section (headline: “Take Bacon. Add Sausage. Blog”), then online some more.
Anyone doubt that Kansas City is the barbecue capital of the world?
All told, Chronister and Day say the Bacon Explosion recipe on their site, www.bbqaddicts.com., has attracted 510,000 page views since it was posted just before Christmas; 90,000 alone on Wednesday.
Now, thanks to the Times story, the bacon buds are bound for New York, where they’ll smoke their sausage Friday morning in Times Square. That’ll be on Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” show. Then they’ll head south to Tampa, Fla., to do some Super Bowl tailgating Sunday on another Fox channel. Two book publishers e-mailed Wednesday and want to talk.
This whole thing started when a Web site called Bacon Today asked Chronister and Day if they had any bacon barbecue recipes. “The longer I thought about it,” Day wrote on bbqaddicts.com, “the more I wanted to step it up a notch and clog a few arteries for those guys.”
Chronister, 32, of Kansas City, and Day, 27, of Roeland Park, admit they’re not the first foodies to combine the two pork products in a barbecue recipe. But you have to give ’em credit for a catchy name.
More than that, you have to give them credit for knowing how to exploit the Internet. Chronister’s brilliant move was posting on Twitter, a site that sends out short Web-based text messages. His 1,200 Twitter “followers” — mostly other Internet marketers and “social network influencers” — took it from there.
Some of them thumbs-upped the Bacon Explosion post on a site called StumbleUpon, which suggests Web pages based on a user’s interests. The recipe became so hot there it went to the site’s front page.
Other sites, such as Digg and Del.icio.us, also helped the recipe go viral. There’s a Bacon Explosion fan page on Facebook. On YouTube, you can watch gas grills catching on fire when the Bacon Explosion log almost literally explodes. (Hint: Cooking in a smoker, with indirect heat, is the recommended method. Dripping bacon grease and an open flame are a dangerous combination.)
Chronister and Day do not claim, by the way, that Bacon Explosion is health food. Just one little sandwich — a couple of 1/4 -inch to 1/2 -inch rounds of meat on a buttermilk biscuit — “sits heavy,” Day says. The entire meat log contains something like 5,000 calories and 500 grams of fat.
One of the first comments posted in response to the recipe: “They should make drive-through angioplasty. It would make this much easier.”
Amy Winn of the Kansas City Barbeque Society hadn’t heard of the Bacon Explosion until The Star called her, but she’d like to try it.
“They’re good marketers,” Winn says of Chronister and Day. “Doesn’t necessarily mean they’re good cooks at this point.”
Still, considering that they and third team member Bryant Gish competed for the first time last fall, they’re doing well: Their brisket finished fifth at the American Royal. They’re looking forward to a contest with an “other” category to enter the Bacon Explosion in.
“No one else is as good at making it,” Chronister says. “There’s kind of a technique to doing it right without it falling apart.”
Chronister and Day have decided to get a sign made up for when they’re cooking in contests: CREATORS OF BACON EXPLOSION. And they’re planning to build up their Web site — it’s mostly recipes and a blog now — and maybe get some advertisers. A product called Bacon Salt just contacted them.
“We struck a chord with bacon,” Day says modestly.
Creating a ‘Bacon Explosion’
You need 2 pounds of thick-cut sliced bacon, 2 pounds of Italian sausage, 3 tablespoons barbecue rub and 3/4 cup barbecue sauce. Day and Chronister use their barbecue team’s homemade rub and sauce.
First, build a latticework of 10 slices of bacon, like on top of a pie. The strips should be tightly woven. Cook remaining bacon until crisp.
Sprinkle bacon weave with 1 tablespoon of rub.
Spread sausage on top of the bacon lattice, pressing to outer edges.
Crumble fried bacon on top of the sausage. Drizzle with 1/2 cup sauce and sprinkle with tablespoon of the rub.
Separate front edge of sausage layer from the bacon weave and roll away from you. Press sausage roll to remove air pockets and pinch together seams and ends.
Roll the sausage toward you, this time with the bacon weave, until completely wrapped. Turn it seam-side down. The roll should be 2-3 inches thick. Sprinkle with remaining rub.
Cook in a smoker at 225 degrees for about 2 1/2 hours, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Glaze with more sauce when done. Day and Chronister don’t recommend cooking this in an oven because, unless the meat is lifted out of the pan, it will get very greasy.