One of the best things about country music’s Stagecoach Festival has been the food. That was where we first met BigMista’sBBQ and the folks from the Cowboy Way, our two favorite BBQ guys in Southern California. The second year we went, one of the BBQ booths there was pimping something they called “Atomic Buffalo Turds” (ABT), which was certainly not the most appetizing name, but turned out to be half-jalapeno peppers filled with Lit’l Smokies (or other cocktail franks), spiced cream cheese, wrapped in bacon, seasoned, and then smoked. It sounded like the perfect food for pepper-headed grill fanatics like us, but since we had both just eaten large lunches, we decided to come back later for a mid-afternoon snack. Unfortunately, when we came back a few hours later, they were out! Crushed, I vowed to figure out how to do that dish myself, so that I wouldn’t have to depend on anyone else for what was sure to be a culinary orgasmic experience.
When I got home, I Googled “Atomic Buffalo Turds”, and found a recipe that looked awfully similar to what had been described. I made it for the first time later that summer at my annual “Hoot in the Hills” camping trip with my high school buddies, and they loved it! In fact, it was requested again for this summer’s trip, from which I just returned.
A couple of the guys asked me to cut back on the amount of cayenne in the cream cheese this year, because they thought that part was just a bit too spicy, but a couple of the other guys thought that they were a bunch of wusses and that I watered it down too much. So I’ll present the recipe as I originally found it, but know that you have the ability to cut down on the heat if you wish–of course, since the whole treat is based on a half of a jalapeno pepper, there will be plenty of heat for most people regardless. If you really want to tame the recipe, you can also use the small red/yellow/orange sweet peppers.
So be ye forewarned–this is a spicy treat, but if your friends and/or family are spice tolerant, bacon loving individuals, this appetizer is a guaranteed hit!
- 12 fresh jalapeno (or sweet) peppers
- 12 slices of bacon, cut in half
- 24 Little Smokies or other cocktail-sized franks
- 1 (8 oz) package regular cream cheese at room temperature (you can substitute neufchatel or fat-free)
- 2 tsp paprika (optional)
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
- Sweet bbq rub (I’ve used a 2:1 mix of a commercial bbq rub and brown sugar, or Robin’s Rub from my smoked chicken recipe)
- 24 Toothpicks
- Cut tops off jalapenos, slice in half lengthwise, and de-vein.
- Mix room-temperature cream cheese, paprika and cayenne in a resealable plastic bag (original recipe uses a bowl, but also suggests a pastry bag).
- Cut a corner out of the bag, and squeeze cream cheese mixture to fill the jalapeno slices close to level
- Place a smokie in each pepper.
- Wrap a half-slice of bacon around each piece, evenly or staggered, as you prefer.
- Pierce through bacon, smokie, and pepper with a toothpick.
- Sprinkle sweet bbq rub on outside of ABT.
- Place each ABT upright (cheese and smokie side up, to prevent cheese from dripping onto foil or grill) on aluminum foil on grill.
- Cook ABTs over indirect heat on bbq for 45 minutes to an hour–just enough to cook the bacon.
- Serve! Some suggest serving with (or drizzling with) a chipotle raspberry bbq sauce, which is awesome, but unnecessary.
*Cut back on the cayenne (or eliminate entirely) if you want to reduce the heat a bit, though the jalapenos will likely trip the heat limit for most people anyways–if they can handle the jalapenos, they can probably handle the cayenne.
*You can use a lower fat (or non-fat) cream cheese and a turkey smokie if you want to make it a bit leaner, but you’re still going to end up wrapping it in bacon (do NOT use turkey bacon on this–that stuff sucks), so you may want to just go for the full fat/full flavor package on this dish.
*These could also easily be slow smoked at 225, and would take 60-90 minutes. Again, the key is that it is done when the bacon is done to your liking, as everything else can be eaten as is.