|Serving suggestion? © Ryan Schierling|
It was a beautiful, bluebird, late summer day.
I walked around the building, cursing. All of the doors to this Capitol Hill club were locked, there was no one inside. I stood back a bit on the corner and looked up toward the rooftop deck, hoping there was someone around to let me in. I shifted my bags full of gear, dialed the number given to me by my editor, lifted the phone to my ear and waited. No answer. The club owner, who was to be featured in a local magazine I was freelancing for at the time, was a no-show. I walked around the building a few more times, swore a little more, left one last voicemail, and bailed. At least I had the rest of the afternoon and evening to fire up the grill and soak up the last rays of the day.
At the grocery store across the street, I wandered with an empty basket for a while. What sounded good? What looked good? What hadn't I made in a while? What hadn't I made, ever?
Bacon-wrapped stuffed jalapeños have been around since chest-thumping caveman times and there's no shortage of self-proclaimed brilliant recipes out there, with just about every filling incarnation you can think of – some type of soft cheese with... chives, crab, deviled ham, pimientos, pickled garlic, sundried tomatoes, Ortolan... whew. Exhausting.
Seeing the butcher beating beef down (for Milanesa, perhaps?), I started figuring things out and had her wrap a pound for me. Instead of jalapeño peppers, I grabbed a jar of spicy pickled pepperoncini. Around that wafer-thin slice of beef would be a piece of bacon. Seasoned well, finally brushed with... what? Barbecue sauce seemed too heavy-handed. I wandered the store some more until I found molasses. It still seemed a bit much, too dark and heavy. Teriyaki sauce didn't really fit with the pepperoncini, maybe a bastardized arrabbiata sauce? I wanted something a little different, but this was all getting too complicated.
Then I saw the pomegranate molasses. A bit fruity, sweet, tart and thick, it was exactly what I needed. Done. Grab a half-rack of beer and head home. I was excited.
|(L) Dan's bbq seasoning. (R) Assembly. © Ryan Schierling|
The Weber was dragged out, the coals fired up. I soaked a dozen toothpicks. The pepperoncini, beef and bacon roll-ups came together exactly as I'd envisioned, and the flavors were right on – a little bright, burst of juicy spiciness from the pepperoncini, a richness from the beef, crunchy and salty bacon, and the pomegranate molasses made a tangy, faintly smoky and sweet carmelized crust. I prepared a dozen, which was immediately determined to be a wholly insufficient number. And what were we supposed to call them?
Dan came up with Bitchin' Bacon & Beef Bombs™ and the name stuck. That was six years ago, and they've been one of my grilling staples ever since.
Note: these can also be made a little smaller (BB&BB Minis) using a half piece of bacon with the beef cut to match, which is handy if you're using thick-cut bacon.