Tag Archives: thick-sliced bacon

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

It has started to warm up, but in that usual spring way of being 70° one day and 46° the next. Still, I can feel spring around the corner and am in the mood for a cold salad. The trick is not to make too much for the two of us, so that we don’t feel obligated to eat it for a week or throw it away. I’m only going to use 6 0z. of the pasta, but I know it will still be too much.

I’m using fresh garden peas, now that my local grocer carries them, a few jarred roasted red peppers, hard boiled eggs, and the chicken breasts of the previous post. And bacon.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad

  • Servings: 3-4 as main dish
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

6 oz pasta—I used white fiber pasta shells that have more whole grain—cooked according to package directions

2 large roasted red bell peppers, diced

8 oz fresh shelled garden peas, microwaved for 1 minute, or frozen peas, uncooked

4 eggs, hard boiled and chopped

4-6 slices thick-sliced bacon, browned and chopped

4 small poached chicken breasts, about 2 lbs, cut in large chunks (see previous post)

1 1/2-2 cups ranch dressing (below)

Ranch Dressing:

1/2 cup each whole buttermilk, real mayonnaise, sour cream

2 tablespoons dried chives

1 tablespoon dried dill weed

1 clove garlic, grated or minced

salt and pepper

  1. Whisk all ingredients until smooth. You can double the recipe if you think you need the larger amount, and it never hurts to have more on hand.

Combine all the salad ingredients, tossing with the ranch dressing. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. The garden peas are a nice addition with that fresh pop in each bite.

Just Another Bacon Sandwich

I didn’t feel like having one of the burgers for dinner, so I mushed the 3 into 2 for my husband (and hoped he wouldn’t notice eating too much meat), and just focused my attention on the bacon. Is it just me or do you think the bacon often gets lost on the burger?

I dragged out the cast iron griddle that doesn’t sit right on my stove, and it just fits in the kettle grill with no room to spare. I put the bacon on the cold griddle and then set it on the hot grill. Closing the lid for a few minutes let the griddle heat up and I could hear the sizzling beginning. After that, I kept the lid over, tending to the bacon as I would on the stovetop. As you can see in one image, that griddle had a hot spot in the middle where my charcoal was piled, so I just moved pieces around and took some off as needed. That’s when I had to figure out how to get the griddle off to grill the burgers and onions.

The griddle fit in so tightly, I had to tip it a little to set it on the grate and get my gloved fingers out, and with the grease reservoir filled with bacon grease, I didn’t want to cause a grease flare up on the coals that would jump up to my arms. It seemed like the only way to be able to lift the griddle would be to remove the grease first, so I got my turkey baster and started sucking up the grease and putting it in a cup. There was a ton of grease and it seemed to be going okay until I noticed that I was melting the plastic baster by touching the cast iron with the tip. Oh, well. It worked up until the tip melted itself shut and now it’s off to the gadget store for another baster. Do they make one in metal or glass? We’ll see.

Grilling casualty
Grilling casualty

I learned a few things about the griddle, about using plastic on a grill, and about cooking bacon on a grill, but in the end, it was all about the sandwich:

  • grilled ciabatta roll
  • guacamole
  • lots of chewy bacon
  • grilled onions
  • roasted tomatoes
bacon_sandwich
One of the best sandwiches in a long time

 

Grilled, Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf

So one way not to cook so many hamburgers on the grill is to smush all the ground beef into a meatloaf, right?

There is a lot of inspiration on the web for wrapping rolls of meat in bacon and then slow-cooking or smoking the roll on the grill. I get a lot of that inspiration from Tony Meets Meat (obviously contains meat recipes!), although I didn’t really want to stuff the meatloaf, and stuffing seems to be a popular meme for meat rolls on the web. Usually the rolls are stuffed with more meat, but don’t think turducken. There are also some good ideas for grilling a meatloaf without a stuffing, most of them, as well as the aforementioned meat rolls, using a woven mat of bacon to hold it all together. The bacon weave is a great idea, not just for the flavor but for how it keeps the meat inside basted throughout a long cooking.

I used the snake charcoal method and cooked the loaf for 3 hours at about 250°-300°. The internal temperature at the end was about 177° and it was not overdone. The meatloaf was terrifically juicy throughout and the bacon had a moist, chewy texture. I put the loaf on a narrow strip of foil, which doubled as a lifter, so the bacon on the bottom was not browned, but it melted in your mouth. It was another Wow! meal. I have made bacon-wrapped meatloaves in the oven many times, but the bacon dries out too much. Not so on the grill.

Grilled, Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf

  • Servings: 1 loaf; about 10 thick slices
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Set up grill for indirect cooking—this could be a half and half setup  or the snake method. Either way, you want to be able to keep the heat at medium to medium low for a long time. If you use the half and half method, don’t put your hood thermometer over the coals.

3 lbs 80% lean ground chuck

1/2 cup dry bread crumbs

1/4 cup ketchup

2 eggs

1/4-1/2 cup evaporated milk

1/2 cup celery with leaves, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, finely chopped

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

22 oz package thick-sliced bacon

  1. Mix first 11 ingredients by hand in large bowl, adding enough evaporated milk to achieve a moist mix that will hold together in a loaf shape.
  2. Weave your slices of bacon into a square or rectangular mat as long as you want the loaf to be. As you can see in posts all over the web, it helps to make this on parchment paper or plastic wrap, which will help you roll it up. I kept out about three slices of bacon, because my 3 pound loaf was large in diameter, too large for one slice of bacon to go around. I laid the extra slices lengthwise across the loaf, and then brought the woven mat up the sides and slightly over those strips. The roll was then rolled over so the extra strips and ends were on the bottom. I kept the roll wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge until the grill was ready. Here is a good image of the bacon weave: https://tonymeetsmeat.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/2015-06-28-20-40-39.jpg
  3. You could place the loaf directly on the grill, but I put a narrow strip of foil under it, which worked as a lifter, making moving the loaf on and off the grill easy. It also meant I didn’t need to secure the bottom pieces and ends of the bacon with toothpicks.
  4. Grill over a drip pan (or one you improvise with foil, like I did) for about 3 hours at 250°-300° or until the internal temperature reaches 165°. Enjoy your 3 hours of doing nothing.