I had half of a kit for Curley’s venison bacon, but wanted to try to make it into rounds instead of strips. Although the flavor of this product tastes a lot like bacon, the texture isn’t the same, and my family had a hard time with that. But I love bagel sandwiches, and a large round slice of this bacon would be perfect for that, and could also be served with eggs (or chopped in an omelet, diced for pizza, etc.).
I thought I had ordered a large casing to stuff this in, but when I got ready to mix the meat and spices and make the bacon, I realized I must have talked myself out of it. But what the heck, Bearcarver has a great tutorial on caseless snack sticks that I have tried that produce an even smokier flavor, so why wouldn’t that work with a larger sausage? My only fear was that its own weight would keep it from staying round, but I thought the Q-Matz might solve that problem.
6 lbs venison and 4 lbs pork with the kit.
Ready to mix.
Separated into three sections (I was trying to imagine how long the diameter of roll I was wanting would be, and if it would fit in my MES).
After rolling, I used two lengths of plastic wrap- one on top, one on bottom- and tried to squeeze out air bubbles.
The ends were twisted and the rolls were placed in the fridge for an overnight rest. I had hoped that the meat would firm up enough to hold it's shape, but they did not; even after four or five hours. So I tried using the Q-Matz to hold the shape.
And this worked great! (Which is good, because the only other option I could think of was buying some lengths of pvc pipe to keep them round).
After putting the rolls in the fridge, it was time to clean up. I included in an earlier thread that I bought plastic tubs to store my equipment in. These serve as storage, I mix my sausage in them (you see the tub in the 2nd and 3rd photos), and then the tubs serve as a wash basin for cleanup while they get themselves cleaned. It makes this a pretty efficient process.
The next morning I removed the Q-Matz and rolled them from the plastic wrap directly onto the Q-Matz.
Rolled and tied like a roast to help hold shape. (There were three of these).
Smoker had been warmed to 135 degrees. It was time to start drying these out. I left them in for three hours, no smoke.
Time to start smoke. I used a combination of hickory and apple pellets, and bumped the temp to 150 for four hours.
After smoke for four hours, according to instructions, I removed my mailbox mod and raised the temp to 170. I was using two thermometers, the internal MES and an external Weber remote. Both probes fit perfectly in the squares of the Q-Matz mesh, and the rolls came to 150 degrees within minutes of each other.
Finished, resting, and still wrapped in the Q-Matz...
I started slicing as soon as I got home from work the next day. These aren't perfectly round, but pretty close, and better than I thought they would turn out. I fried some up, and my daughter (a bacon FREAK) told me this is much better than the last batch. To prove her point, she found a few ends that I had hidden in the fridge and fried them up for her breakfast the next morning.
The "haul" in the background with a couple of fried slices in the foreground.
Everything vacuum sealed. This produced 21 bags of eight (or nine) slices, or just under ten pounds of bacon.
The payoff. Breakfast this morning.
Now that I've tried this successfully, I'm considering making a venison meatloaf using the Q-Matz, or some caseless summer sausage, or (obviously) try this method with a fattie.
A big thanks again to Todd for hosting the November contest where I won these Q-Matz! If you don't have some of these, they are a great addition to your smoking toybox, and I am finding them to be very versatile!