Smoking Bacon-Wrapped Food
Who doesn't love bacon?
It’s crunchy, filled with great umami flavor, and pleasing to the tastebuds. Because of its fat content, bacon is a great tool for basting and flavoring meats and vegetables. The advantage of bacon-wrapped foods is that minimal seasoning is required. Need a quick side-dish? Create vegetable bundles by wrapping asparagus, fresh green beans, or sliced bell peppers in bacon. Pop them on the grill, and it’s done in 10-12 minutes. What’s even better is that you can also use bacon for low and slow smoking.
In our book “The Complete Guide to Smoking Meats,” we take bacon-wrapped items to the smoker. This low and slow approach allows the meat to absorb that satisfying bacon flavor, but not in an overpowering way. The best meats to use are leaner cuts like boneless skinless turkey or chicken breasts, pork loin chops, and loin roasts. Since these meats are prone to drying out, the bacon seals in the juices and bastes it while the fat renders.
Before smoking bacon-wrapped items, it’s best to consider how long the meat will need to spend in your cooker. If it’s a large item like a whole turkey, the chances are that the bacon and turkey will cook at variable rates. This can leave you with rubbery bacon, or in some cases, burnt bacon. It’s best to start with smaller items and work up from there.
Bacon and Wood Choices
I recommend using regular cut hickory-smoked bacon. It’s the right thickness for faster smoking recipes like meatballs and chicken breasts. Black pepper bacon will work wonders for turkey breast, while Hatch chili or bourbon bacon is great for lean pork. If you plan to use a glaze or sauce, use neutral flavored bacon.
Bacon is inherently smoky, so I recommend using milder woods like alder or apple.
Wrapping and Cooking
Measure the bacon, cut it to fit the food with at least 1 to 1½ inches left over. Keep in mind that as bacon cooks, it shrinks, so providing a bit of leeway is good practice. Secure your bacon with toothpicks and use an aluminum drip pan to catch all the drippings.
Last but not least is creating a candied coating on your bacon-wrapped foods. I recommend doing this with turkey breast and pork loin. Toward the end of cooking time, baste the surface of the bacon with a little jalapeno, cherry, or peach jelly. Not too much, just enough to add a little sweetness to the bacon. The result is amazing!
Keep in mind that you can bacon-wrap just about anything from fruits to meatballs, and our porky triple threat “Oink Rollups” and “Bacon-Wrapped Onion Bombs.” Smoking bacon-wrapped food is fun and easy, but most importantly, have fun with your creations.
After a childhood spent in Utah camping and live fire cooking, Derrick Riches began writing professionally about barbecue and grilling. From 1997-2017, he authored content for his wildly successful website on About.com, which had an impressive global reach of tens of millions of readers. In 2017, Derrick became the managing editor of the rapidly growing derrickriches.com. He is considered one of the most respected outdoor cooking industry journalists and celebrated live-fire authors. He has written three books including, Kebabs: 75 Recipes for Grilling, The Rotisserie Grilling Cookbook, and The Complete Guide to Smoking Meat. Derrick’s work is featured in numerous outlets, including books, print publications, and multiple digital media outlets such as Esquire, BBC News, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, SBS Australia, WebMD, LA Times, and more.
There’s something about the intoxicating aroma of brisket roasting over an open flame. Makes your mouth water, doesn’t it? The Complete Guide to Smoking Meat gives you the know-how to make melt-in-your mouth smoked meat at home. This essential smoker cookbook provides clear, step-by-step methods and recipes that will get you fired up about BBQ and turn you into a meat smoking master.