The Rocking Tailgate series is designed to allow us to get our minds off the stats and opinions of the Rams for a bit. It’s an opportunity to put the news about the team, players, and coaches away for a moment and provide our readers with something special, something that speaks to all of us. FOOD! With a splash of good music to share with friends and family. Rocking Tailgate is all about the whole experience! Welcome to Rams in Perspective’s Rocking Tailgate-Big Fatty edition.
What is a Big Fatty?
A Big Fatty is basically a huge log of seasoned meat stuffed with cheese, wrapped in a bacon weave, and smoked in a smoker or on a grill. It can be eaten in an assortment of ways, from sliced and ate like meatloaf to sliced and put on hamburger buns and served like a bacon cheeseburger. There is no wrong way to enjoy it shy of dropping it in the bed of coals or on the ground after cooking it.
There are numerous ways to make these and the main thing to keep in mind is simply using ingredients you like to season burgers with and go with that. You can experiment with different flavors to get all sorts of awesome final results.
In this version, we (this was something our oldest son wanted to try and was a joint effort) wanted a nice steak burger flavor with a thick cheese and some smoked flavouring, so this is what we used in this one. Lastly, we rarely measure when we cook, so these are general guidelines as to how much of each ingredient we used. Season to your tastes.
- 2lbs hamburger (we used ground chuck 85/15)
- 1lbs ground pork
- 2lbs smoked bacon
- 1 medium onion (we used a yellow, but any will work)
- Dijon mustard approximately 1/4 cup (or 2 Tbsp mustard powder)
- 1-2 Bell peppers (we used half of a green, orange, and red pepper)
- Liquid Smoke (we sprinkled about a tsp)
- Worcestershire sauce (couple good shakes)
- Steak Seasoning (grab your favourite blend, we used Montreal blend)
- Black pepper to taste (we wanted a little more pepper flavor without the salt added into the Montreal Steak Seasoning)
- Garlic powder to taste (we used around 2-3 Tbsp)
- 8oz block of Colby Jack cheese
Those are the basics, but you can add or substitute all sorts of ingredients to give hints of flavours you like. Some suggestions would be smoked paprika, cumin, taco seasoning, hot peppers, pepper jack cheese, cheddar cheese, and just about anything else you can think of that you’d normally season a burger with.
Other items needed/suggested
- Aluminium foil
- Cooking spray
- 1 gallon zip lock bag
- Rolling pin
- Charcoal (unless using propane or oven)
- Grill or smoker
- Smoking chips (we used chipped up oak barrels from Jack Daniels)
- Water (to soak wood chips used for smoking)
- Toothpicks (round heavy ones work best)
- Oven mitts
- Wax paper
- Large mixing bowl
- Large sharp Chef’s knife
- Large cutting board or table top
The first step in making our Rocking Tailgate-Big Fatty is to chop your onions and peppers and place into the large mixing bowl. The size of chop is completely up to your personal preference. I would suggest between a 1/4″-1/2″ which should retain enough flavor to permeate the meat, but not large enough to make it too wet.
Next add the hamburger and pork on top, then the rest of the ingredients except the bacon and cheese. Work the ingredients together with your hands.
Tip: You want to make sure you get it nice and evenly mixed, but not overworking it into a sticky mess.
Once you have all the ingredients mixed together, take the mixture and put it into the gallon zip lock bag. Seal all but the last little bit of the bag and squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible, then seal the bag completely.
Tip: You can use a straw in the hole to suck out the excess air-just don’t exhale as that would be kinda gross.
With the excess air out of the bag you can take the rolling pin and work the mixture to cover the entire inside of the bag. You can also use your hand, but the rolling pin speeds up the process and gives you a nice and even meat thickness.
Tip: Once you start rolling the mixture, you may need to bleed more air out. Easiest way to do this is to ensure the meat is at the bottom and roll towards the seal. Open the seal a little and roll the meat towards that opening. When the meat gets to the opening, reseal.
If you have someone else helping, they can be working with the bacon while you are working the meat mixture. If not, set the meat aside and start weaving the bacon.
Place a 3′ section of wax paper on your large work area or table top to start your bacon weave. You want to use the entire length of the bacon and work yourself across the table until all the bacon is used.
Tip: Make the weave as tight as you can if you are using all 2lbs of the bacon. (If you don’t like bacon as much, you can use only 1 lb and space the weave.)
It should look something like this.
Finish your bacon weave and then go back to your meat mixture and carefully open the seal. Take your scissors and cut down one side of the zip lock bag and across the bottom and peel the top plastic off to the side.
This should leave you with a nice square slab of meat. Cube your block of cheese on your cutting board and place on top of the meat, but keep a couple inches from any sides.
Tip: Lightly press the cheese into the meat just enough to keep it from falling off, but not too deep.
Ready to roll. Grab the plastic under the meat that was on the side that you cut and gently roll the mixture towards the flap. The idea is to get the meat to curve into a nice circle.
Your meat should now resemble a Swiss Cake Roll. Gently pinch the edges and the ends together to seal the meat and lock the cheese in.
Next we are going to grab the plastic that our meat roll is on and carry our roll over to the bacon weave.
Line up the plastic where you can roll the log off aligned with the short rows (single slices) of bacon and about a 3rd of the way across the bacon weave. Holding the plastic, let the log roll off onto the bacon.
Once the log is positioned on the bacon weave, you want to grab the wax paper under the end of the weave closes to the roll and lift up slowly and pull over the log until the bacon comes off and is laying across the top of the log. After the bacon is laying across the log, lift the edge of the wax paper and the log will roll its way down the weave. Stop lifting once you get to the edge of the weave.
The log is now wrapped in bacon so we want to make sure our bacon stays in place. Take some wooden toothpicks and secure both ends of the log where the bacon ends. There is no need to do down the length if you are careful.
Your Rocking Tailgate-Big Fatty, should now look like this.
Ready for the grill
Place your smoking chips in a bucket of water and it’s time to fire up the grill. We used indirect heat for the first part of our cooking while we smoked our Big Fatty. To do this, we prepared the coals on one side of the grill and covered the other half of the grill with aluminium foil, but don’t wrap the foil. You want it where you can slide it on the grill during cooking time.
Once the coals are ready, spray your aluminium foil with cooking spray and place your log on the foil.
Tip: If you have someone to help you, keep the log on the wax paper and roll it off onto the foil just like you transferred it from the plastic to the bacon.
Add some of your smoking chips to the coals and cover the grill to trap the smoke. Ideally we want to keep the temperature around 250°-300°. This is to help cook the meat thoroughly without burning the bacon.
Add charcoal and wood chips as needed. Cook for about an hour and a half, then put on a pair of oven mitts, grab the aluminium foil and rotate the log 180° so the other side of the log faces the fire.
Tip: If you have a gas grill and still want that smoked flavor you can soak the wood chips and wrap in aluminium foil. Place on grill over the fire, or under the grill close to a burner.
It’s time to move our log to direct heat to finish our cooking and get that bacon done too. Check the coals to make sure you have enough heat to finish with and add if need be. With oven mitts, slide the aluminium foil and log over the coals.
Tip: If using a square grill that has grill sections, you can leave the grate off over the fire, then simply slide the grate to the fire side. If cooking on a circle style, grab the handles and rotate until the meat is over the coals.
At this point you want to start keeping an eye on the bottom of the log. Once the bottom bacon starts getting dark (approximately 20-30 minutes), carefully flip and rotate the log.
IMPORTANT Tip: Grease from the bacon will be accumulating on the aluminium foil by this time and you don’t want it dripping onto the coals. It will cause a grease fire or flair up in most cases. To avoid that, slide the foil and log to the side with no coals to flip the log, then place back over the fire once you have the log rolled.
Continue cooking the log until the bacon is just shy of your desired crispness and remove from heat. This should be approximately a half an hour after you flipped the log and rotated it. Remember that it will continue to cook even after you remove from the heat for a couple minutes which is why you remove it a bit early. This helps prevents overcooking.
Let the log set for 15 minutes and serve however you wish to eat it and don’t forget to remove the wooden toothpicks. If you would like more information on the Big Fatty and pictures of the in between steps, head over to skirtinthekitchen.com for the original posting and pictures of the steps.
I hope you enjoyed this weeks’ Rocking Tailgate-Big Fatty edition. Do you have another version you’d like to experiment with, or have tried, let us know in the comments. We love to hear about food ideas!
Until next time, enjoy some awesome music.