The Great Bacon Odyssey: Bacon, the Other Crispy Brown Meat

Geek Culture

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Ready to eat! Photo by Jen Blum.

It’s important to pace yourself when on a geek quest of any sort, and this is especially true of those that, like mine, present a certain amount of personal risk. Having last week eaten a (beef) hamburger wrapped in 10 slices of (pork) bacon, I felt it wise to wait a week before attempting another such feat of consumption.

I had read online about several people, over the past five years or so, trying their hand at a burger made out of ground bacon, with no other meat included. I hadn’t intended to try it until later in my Great Bacon Odyssey, but several people suggested it after last week’s triumph, so I started thinking about it more and more. Then it occurred to me: In order to be truly worthy of me, and of the GeekDad name that means so much to me, my quest would have to take me beyond what other people have already done. And to make that possible, I would first have to prove that I was serious. I would have to conquer the bacon burger.

First, I needed to figure out how many slices I would need. I wanted to use the uncured bacon again, with no dry rub or any such thing, because I knew that if I were to have a prayer of eating the whole thing, I would need the burger to have as little salt in it as possible. I wanted a burger weighing about one-third of a pound, but I don’t have a kitchen scale.

The package had 22 slices and, according to the package, weighed 12 ounces. Assuming all slices were cut uniformly (which appeared to my eye to be the case), each slice weighed about 0.55 ounces. That would mean 10 slices (after rounding up), because 1/3 of a pound is about 5.33 ounces. But I wanted the burger’s cooked weight to be 1/3 of a pound, not its raw weight, and of course bacon loses a lot of fat during cooking. A little research indicated that the likelihood was that my bacon would lose about half of its weight during cooking. That seemed a bit high to me, especially since the bacon I’d bought had a good percentage of meat in each slice, so I figured starting with 19 slices, for a weight of 10.45 ounces, would cover me.

I wanted to cook the burger under the broiler, as I did with the bacon-wrapped burger last week, on a rack set over a Pyrex dish to allow the rendered fat to drain. Having read about the difficulties people making such burgers have had keeping them together, I decided to add one large egg to the food processor along with the 19 slices of bacon. I ground the bacon and the egg together, then, using my hands, pulled the mixture out and used a hamburger press to make a burger. It is possible that my hands have been greasier at some point in my life, but if so I have (fortunately) forgotten it. I was not quite prepared for the raw burger to look like pure fat, and I must admit that it didn’t look very appealing. But it was for science, so I soldiered on!

I put the burger on the rack-Pyrex assembly and slid it under the broiler. Having learned a lesson from last week, I turned the stove exhaust fan to high immediately. I peeked in on it as it cooked, and it seemed to be cooking nicely, with tons of little fat bubbles sizzling on top. After seven minutes or so, I took it out to turn it over, and was pleased how easily it flipped. Five minutes later, it looked done, so I took the temperature of the inside (you need to be careful with pork, of course), and it registered at 160 degrees Fahrenheit, so out it came. Now it looked like food, and smelled delicious.

For the rest of the story, I give you a video (below), shot by my lovely wife Jen using my iPhone 4. In this video you will see me eat the entire burger, with the exception of two bites I let my kids have, because what kind of a geek dad would I be if I didn’t let them try it? With a Dogfish Head 90-Minute IPA to wash it down and some mustard to cut the fatty taste, it was enjoyable for a while. After about half of it, it became more of an effort to keep eating, as you’ll see, but I did it, and could certainly have managed to eat the bites my kids took. Note: If you should notice a whirring sound in the video, that’s the fan behind my head, blowing out the window to clear some of the smoke from the cooking out of the house.

Would I recommend it? Reservedly, yes, but mostly because afterward you can honestly say you’ve eaten a burger made out of bacon, and not many people can say that. If you don’t care about the “honor” of it, I suggest sharing it with at least one other person, because it’s not likely you’ll actually want to eat more than half. I suggest uncured bacon so the salt doesn’t make your blood pressure spike. Cook it the way I did unless you want it to bathe in its own fat as it cooks. Oh, yes, and wash it down with something with a bite to it, because otherwise the taste of the bacon fat will likely overwhelm your palate.

As I promised, the awesome folks at ThinkGeek will send a $25 gift certificate to the first person who suggested the bacon burger to me. As far as I can tell, that person is dyarbrough, who left a comment on last week’s post. If you think you suggested it to me before July 6, please send me an email before the end of the day and I’ll check on it. And please keep those ideas coming! There are many more posts to come, and more gift certificates to earn.

See the Flickr set of the preparation and cooking. Read all the Great Bacon Odyssey articles.

(And check out the awesome crocheted bacon slice my awesome wife made for me!)

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