My Bologna

The thing about any method of cooking bologna is, you really don’t need to.

Some time had passed since the last time I grilled or smoked a nice chunk of animal. It was my weekend, which falls on different days than most people, and there was a nice 8 lb turkey breast in the freezer. Planning ahead, my wife thawed the turkey a couple of days earlier. My weekend came, and I prepped the turkey breast for the smoker.

I really hated to fire up the smoker from one item, so, on my way home from work, I picked up a 3 lb chunk of bologna. Nothing fancy. Just plain Amish bologna. Why pay extra for the fancy stuff when the bologna was destined for the smoker?

A little mood music:

At the butcher shop, the gentleman behind the counter didn’t make a big deal about my request. I don’t know what kind of reaction I was expecting. The butcher probably gets request like mine ten times a day. I guess I’m just used to buying meat at the grocery store and getting what is available. I hear tell there are butchers behind the scenes of the grocery market deli counter, but I’ve never made any special requests. I may have to try it next time.

Or, on the other hand, just stick with supporting a local, independent butcher.

The butcher weighed a log of baloney and estimated a 3 lb chunk. For doing it by eye, he did pretty damn good. He weighed up the “chub,” and also managed to sell me a couple of smokies for the ride home. You know, quality assurance.

The night before smoking, after prepping the turkey breast, I prepped the bologna chub. Using a knife, I scored the outside of the chub in a diamond pattern, like you would a ham. I did this to help the smoke get deeper inside the bologna. After slathering the whole thing in yellow mustard, I gave the chub a good twice-over with Montreal steak rub. I wrapped it in foil and stuck the bologna in the fridge for the night.

The next day, I started the mighty MasterBuilt a little before noon. Preheated to 225 degrees and a bag of hickory chips ready to fulfill their tasty destiny. I loaded the turkey breast and the bologna chub on different shelves and all that was left was the waiting.

The thing about any method of cooking bologna is, you really don’t need to. Bologna is ready to eat as soon as you get it out of the store. Maybe even sooner, if you’re a barbarian, and I’m not ashamed to admit that at times, I do display barbarian-like tendencies.

But I digress. You don’t have to do anything to bologna to make it safe to eat. You use your own particular method of preparing bologna to give it a special personalized flavor.

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Hickory smoked bologna

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And to make it look good.

And to impress your friends and relatives.

After about two hours in the smoker, my bologna had taken on a beautiful shade of reddish-brown. I moved the chub to a platter, tented it with foil, and left it on the kitchen counter to rest.

That night, I sliced the bologna chub into slices ranging from a quarter- to a half an inch thick. The two ends were probably a little bit thicker. All in all, I had eight slices after cutting one up for the family to sample. I used one of the end slices to make a sandwich for work the next day. Pretty simple, just white bread and a slice of provolone. No other condiments were needed. The rest I put in a freezer bag and stuck in the fridge.

I lasted two hours at work before deciding it was lunch time. My sandwich was delicious. Meaty, smoky, and peppery, offset by the creaminess of the provolone. I made a good call with no condiments. Anything else would have been a distraction from the pure, simple barbecue creation of mine.

That evening, I went to the fridge to make my sandwich for the next day. Horror stricken, I found only three slices left in the bag.

“What the hell happened to all the bologna?”

“Your son ate it,” my wife explained. “He made two breakfast sandwiches with scrambled eggs and leftover waffles. And he made another sandwich after getting home from band practice. He was worried no one was eating it.”

“No one was eating it? It wasn’t even 12 hours old.”

“You made it for us to eat, didn’t you?”

I held back the obvious, “No. I made it for me to eat.”

I couldn’t get too mad. Those breakfast sandwiches sounded pretty good. And now I had an excuse to make more next time.

At least he saved me the other end slice. I grabbed it quick – he is a 17 year old – and made the next day’s lunch.

“Tell Collin he can have as much as he wants.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure.”

The next day, I found Colin head save me the last slice. I guess I can’t fault him for his taste in barbecue.


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