Jul 21, 2009

Smoked "Turbajunkin"

This is something that I dreamed up and I've been wanting to try out for sometime now. It's a cross between a "turducken" and a "bacon explosion". (I'll explain that makeshift sling thingy a bit later) If your not a food junkie like I am, or you live in a cave and don't know what either of those are, just google them. There are recipes for both everywhere. Although the "turducken" has been around for awhile, the "bacon explosion" apparently, is the newest, latest, and greatest thing for bbq'rs and foodies on the net.

Inspired by those two fabulous creations, plus the fact I was facing "turkey" as the primary ingredient for June's bakespace dinner challenge I knew I wanted to do something on the grill or in the smoker, afterall, it is summertime. But I wanted to do something different other than our (hubby and I) usual basic smoked turkey breast. Afterall, we've been there, done that, several times in fact. Nope, I wanted an all-in-one-on-a-bun turkey sandwich type thingy.

Hence, the "turbajunkin" was born. To put it simply, my plan was for a butterflied, flattened turkey breast, rolled in a bacon weave, stuffed with "junk". In this case, my "junk" would consist of grilled onions, roasted sweet peppers and provalone cheese. Then we'd smoke it using indirect heat with hickory chips. When finished, it could be sliced and placed on a bun for a yummy sammich (yes, I said "sammich") While in theory it was a fantabulous idea, the execution proved to be a bit more difficult and didn't go quite as smoothly as planned. But I'll get to that in a moment. As you can see from the pic, at the end of the day (and I do mean that literally), with a little perseverance, ingenuity, and about a twelve pack case of beer....mission accomplished!

So the first thing I do is to roast the peppers and grill the onions. Now, some prefer to roast their peppers whole, I like to split them in half, then go ahead and clean them before roasting (or in this case grilling) That way, there's less mess later. I drizzle the onion slices and pepper halves with oil, then salt and pepper and put on a gas grill, low-med heat for about I dunno, 10-15-20 min? (a beer later, hows that?) Remove the onions when they are soft, but not all the way caramelized. When the peppers blister I throw them into a large bowl with a lid and let them steam. This will loosen the skin and make them easy to peel off. (alternatively, you can throw them in a brown paper sack). Cut the veggies into strips and set aside.

Next, I got the bacon weave going on. I used 1/8" thick sliced bacon, about 1 1/2 pounds. Arrange the bacon weave on a double layer of plastic wrap, it will be easier to roll up later. Sorry I don't have pics of these steps (my hands were yucky) but basically, lay out an entire row of strips that are as wide as the length of a piece of bacon. Then, starting in the middle, lay out the first piece perpindicular to the other slices. Work from the middle out to each side and weave the other pieces in. Make sure it is a tight weave, it will hold together better. It's easier to "weave" it if you pull back every other strip and then lay down the whole perpindicular strip. Well crap, this is getting complicated....jus' go here to see how the pros get 'er done.. (that's a video of a "bacon explosion" btw)

Ok, so far so good. Here's where things started going wrong. Originally, I was going to just pick up a bone-in turkey breast, de-bone it, then butterfly the breasts. But while at the store I thought, I'll just buy a boneless turkey breast and save myself the time, right? Well, I didn't pay close enough attention and ended up buying a turkey roast. If you don't know, a turkey roast is made up of big chunks of white meat wrapped around bits and pieces of dark meat, then wrapped in an elastic type netting to hold the whole thing together. Crap. Since I was planning on the turkey meat to hold in my "junk" at first thought, this wasn't going to work. I almost chucked the whole idea. But then I thought, hell, I'm used to piecing together delicate sculpted cakes, surely I could do this right? So I took apart the roast, took out the dark pieces and just used the large white chunks. I butterflied the largest ones and laid them in between two pieces of plastic wrap and pounded them with a meat tenderizer (the smooth side) until they were relatively the same thickness. (Hell, I was going to do that anyway with the whole turkey breast) Then I arranged the pieces on the bacon weave, overlapping the thinner edges and ends so that it would hold in my "junk". Next, I sprinkled on some of my "House Seasoning/Rub" for some extra flavor.

Next, I layed out the provalone slices overlapping them somewhat. They had been sitting out at room temp which was good because it made them more pliable when I got ready to roll. Then I spent a whole bunch of time strategically placing the colored strips of peppers, alternating each color, all in nice little neat rows. You see, I had invisioned the end product being sliced and seeing each color of pepper in one row. OK.... Whatever.[eyeroll] Drink a beer and just relax DD, this ain't the food network. Just slap the shit on there and call it a day. Which is exactly what I decided to do with the onions. LOL

Now, what is somewhat important is the placement and size of each layer. I've done roulades before, so I had some insight. If you'll notice, I have the bacon weave the largest, the turkey layer is slightly smaller than the bacon weave so in the end, the bacon can be draped or tucked around it. Then I have the provalone the same size so it can help to "glue" everything together. Now the veggies, you want slightly shorter on the side you'll be rolling to. That's because when you start to roll, they'll get pushed in that direction. If you fill it up too much, it's not going to all stick together and you'll loose all the junk in your trunk.

If you'll also notice in the pic above, I'm using the plastic wrap to roll the log. Makes it much easier and keeps things tighter. Rolling it up wasn't a problem at all, in fact, it was the easiest. I ended up with it seam side down and then I panicked. That's where things took a slight turn for the worse. I thought about all of my "junk" oosing out of the bottom. Crap. Or the whole thing coming undone once on the grate of the smoker. Bigger Crap. Oh, I know! Get the NET! So I got the net that the roast was wrapped in and rolled the log over onto it. Well, the net was too small now to wrap back around my fat log (duh, huh?) and at this point the bacon was starting to soften up. Crap.

Things started to unravel on me. Literally. Damnit. But I'm so close??? I refused to give up! So at this point, I wrapped the whole thing up in plastic, laid it in a foil pan and stuck it in the fridge, while I regrouped. I had to think about this...for awhile...or another beer. I know what you're thinking...just put it in a pan and call it a day. But my original plan was to put the turbajunkin directly on the smoker grate, with a drip pan underneath, so the bacon would be nice and crispy. Afterall, who wants soggy bacon on their sandwich, right? So as I'm standing there, starring at the wood chips for the smoker soaking, I come up with the idea of a sling!

So I threw some dowel rods (that I normally would use for cake supports) into the water with the wood chips, so they'd be wet and wouldn't burn. Drank another beer while I soaked (er uhm I mean they soaked). So after a beer (or two) later (hey, it's the weekend) I threaded the dowel rods through the netting and crimped the foil so the "braces" wouldn't roll around. (uhm, afterall, my drunk ass has to carry this thing all the way down the steeeeep deck steps to our smoker, insert shock face) My husband was quite impressed with my McGyver skills. ;)

So the "man", fired up the smoker using natural chunk oak charcoal. Don't ask me how many chimney starters it took, I have no idea, that's his job. All I do is tell him what temp I want it to "hover at" and he gets it done. In this case, I had emailed my buddy Matt, an expert smoker/griller over on bakespace, who wasn't around at the time (sniff sniff, just when I needed you the most Matt lol) so I had to "guess". I decided on around 225-250F (which btw, was what Matt suggested when he emailed me back). So as you can see, we used the true smoking method of indirect heat and when the coals were good and hot, threw on the hickory chips for even more flavor. Whew, time to relax for a bit.

So we haul our laptops and cooler out onto the deck, ready to soak up some sunshine, smell the fruits of our labor, and just chill out for a couple of hours on this beautiful Sunday afternoon. All was right with the world..... Then.......the clouds rolled in. Crap. My supportive hubby says, "It's just a sprinkle, here, have a 'nuther beer". Quite naively I ask, "Oh, is it going to pass over ya think?"... Bigger rain drops, more clouds. Crap. Oh, and btw, it was just in the BACK of the house, out in the front of our house, nice and sunny. One of those freaky things that happen, once in a blue moon. (hahaha, get it? blue moon?) Nope, as luck would have it....had to grab all of our shit and pack it in. Hell, at this point, who cares? Whew, made it in just in time for the big freakish downpour. My recliner is way more comfy anyway.

Well I'm happy to report that about 4 hours later (ok, could have been 3 hours, we kinda lost track of time) it was time!!!! I sat the turbajunkin on a cutting board to let it rest. At this point, screw the side dishes, I just want a sandwich. I couldn't wait. I really should have let it rest, afterall the poor thing had been through a lot (but then again, so had I). So I sliced it using a serrated knife anticipating what every bbq smoker looks for...the coveted smoke ring. Which, if you don't know, is a pink "ring" around the outside of the meat that is a sure indication that the smoke flavor has successfully permeated the meat. I was stoked to see the juicy succulent meat indeed had a perfect smoke ring!

It was a beautiful thing indeed. Perfectly crisp bacon on the outside, tender juicy turkey on the inside with a gooey flavorful filling in the middle. Oh man. Oh crap (but in a good way this time). Now, as perfect as it was, in hindsite, I'd change a few things. First, I'd still grill the onions but not the peppers. They were a little too mushy after all that smokin'. I think they'd be better just a wee bit more firm. Secondly, I wouldn't have freaked out about the thing falling apart. I could have very well just gently laid it on the grates, seam side down, with the pan underneath the grate as originally planned because the bacon tightened up as it cooked and held everything together. Another thing is, I'd give it time to rest so it wouldn't fall apart when I sliced it (I knew better) and also, give the cheese a few minutes to cool down and tighten back up. Lastly, although I highly recommend using a smoker, you could do this on a grill, but it would HAVE to be a charcoal grill AND use the indirect heat method by moving your HOT COALS to the side. As if I really need to explain that, but I thought I better...in case you're having a few beers. LOL

So there you have it, my "turbajunkin". Seriously, no condiments needed! I have every intention of doing another now that I have one under my belt (get it? huh? "under my belt" hehehehe, oh never mind)....and oh man....there WILL be a next time...for sure!!!! Between three of us (uhm, the vegetarian didn't partake, as tempting as it was) eating and nibbling all nite, the whole thing was gone by the end of the night. If you try it, please let me know, I'd love to hear any tips or adventures that you'd care to share. ;) Enjoy!


Culinary Alchemist said...

Absolutely the most Awesomest thing I have seen in a long time... Sucks about the rain though, but if the pictures are any indication... Sure looks like it was worth it... LOL


Danielle said...

OOOOO EEEEM GEEEEE (ya, I stole that from Gossip Girl hahahaha) that is just one incredible thing you got there! and what a beautiful weave you did.

debbie said...

Oh Yea...I'm totally inspired to give this a try. It looks sooo delish, I could eat it off the screen. Thanks for sharing the Video from the PitBoys....thier recipe looked good too.

Patti T. said...

DD. I love those Blue Moons also. Ooops, oh yeah, the recipe looked amazingly good also. Ha ha. Looks like a lot of love went into it.

Dajana said...

That's an awesomely good job there.
I'd take a sandwich like that any time. No wonder it didn't last

Bob said...

Stunning. Absolutely stunning. If I had a smoker I'd make one right now! Great choice on Blue Moon too, that's some good stuff right there. Hey, maybe we should do a beer month in the wine club!

tango's trash & treasures said...

Wow is that beautiful!! I can almost taste it!

Donna said...

Wow,, this is highly impressive!! It looks beyond delicious!! So nicely done and what a terrific post, you explained it so well.

Michele said...

Now that I know your voice I'm really cracking up when I read your stories. It's awesome! This post was highly impressive and i"m going to show Steve. I'll tell you that I'm too afraid to ever make it, I don't have those cake skills that came in handy for you! LOL Maybe someday when we visit you, you can make it for me! ;-)

DDpie said...

Thanks guys! It was so good that I'm STILL thinking about it. Can't wait to do it again.

Bob- just grill it dude! If you don't have a charcoal grill, use your gas grill w/ indirect heat and do the sling thing ;)

Michele- y'all (or is that yous two?) are welcome any time! ;)

girlichef said...

Holy crap woman! That is absolutely, positively the craziest good thing I've ever seen!! I MUST try this! Must!

Julianna said...

OMG DD!!! That looks so amazing. And that bacon "weave" is a piece of heaven. Wow. I'd love to put that on top of a pie.

Alaskan Dermish in the Kitch said...

Wow girl! I am going to have to show this to my own Matt the grill man. Can't wait to try it!!

Amateur Cook said...

Finally found ya! And so glad it did. Came across from http://hyethymecafe.blogspot.com/2010/10/stuffed-meatloaf.html

And I'll be back tracking to there as well 'cause she is no slouch in the kitchen either.

DDpie said...

Well I'm glad you found me Amateur Cook, but do I know ya? LOL in any case, thanks for stopping by and saying hello!