Hey guys, Welcome back to my outdoor kitchen. Today, we’re going to be making Smoked Shotgun Shells.
The football season is upon us, and as you know, we are huge tailgaters. This is an amazing tailgate item, and I’m sure you’ve seen shotgun shells all over the internet. They’ve been super popular this summer. We’ve been making them all summer; we’ve made them in lots of different ways, and I think we’ve finally figured out what we like. So we thought we would show that to you guys. There’s a lot of flexibility in this; you can change the flavors and make it however you want. But we made these this summer at our beach house; we had three families over, and they were served as an appetizer. Before I could even get to the main course, all the big guys at the house were hovering over them, eating them all, and they were gone instantly. So at that moment, I said, “When I get back to Texas and the outdoor kitchen, we’re going to make that version because it’s super easy.” So let’s jump right into this.
- 1 How to make Smoked Shotgun Shells
- 2 Smoked Shotgun Shells Recipe
- 3 How to Make Smoked Shotgun Shells Video
How to make Smoked Shotgun Shells
I’m glad to be back here in Texas; it’s been a while. So let’s jump into these; this is going to be really straightforward, really easy, to be honest with you. So get a big mixing bowl; put some gloves on because we’re going to be mixing some meat.
What is a smoked shotgun shell? Well, it’s an uncooked manicotti shell stuffed with whatever you want. It’s going to be wrapped in bacon, seasoned, and then smoked. It’s very simple. There are a few key points that I want to share with you guys that’ll help you nail these so you don’t waste your time and you don’t end up with a tough bite.
Prepare the Meat Mixture
We’re starting out with one pound of hamburger meat; I’m using one pound of 90\10 hamburger meat. I’m using a little less fat because I don’t want a lot of fat running out. And then I’m using one pound of sweet Italian sausage. So I went to my local H-E-B and bought a package of five links of sweet Italian sausage, cut the casings open, and pulled the sausage out. My thought here was, let’s balance the meat with a sweeter meat. I make a lot of bacon explosions, breakfast fatties, and when you have something that’s just pure meat, like eating a bunch of pepperoni, it can be a strong bite. So this is where you have the flexibility to mix this however you want.
I’m adding in eight ounces of cheese; you can use whatever you want. This is farm-style thick-cut; I like that for the texture in this. I’ve used small; I’ve used thick. I prefer this; you can kind of see it in the mix. And this is like Colby Jack and Cheddar. I’ve used all sorts of stuff; you can’t tell a huge difference, so just use whatever you like. This is optional; that’s good enough. Mix it up, stuff the shells.
It’s hatch season right now, and this is something my family enjoys, so we’re just going to go, we’re going to dice up a little bit of hatch chilies to mix in. Now here, you could put in anything; you could put cream cheese in, you could put in other sorts of roasted vegetables. These are hatch chilies that I have roasted; I’ve pulled the skins off, and I’m just kind of dicing them up here just a little bit. I know you won’t be able to get these year-round, so again, this is optional; you don’t have to do this step. But we’re in Texas; we love southwest flavors. This is not hot, so my entire family loves this.
Stuffing and Wrapping the Shells
Alright, let’s mix this up. We’ve got our mixture all ready; you could add seasoning right here, but we’re going to season the outside, so I don’t think it’s necessary at this point. The process is very simple; you’re just going to stuff these shells, and honestly, I think it’s easiest to do this by hand. I’ve made these about a dozen times this summer, and I think this method is the easiest. Plus, I can’t wait for you to get down in the comments and tell me all the expert tips. Let me know how I should be using a piping bag. If you use a piping bag, you know you’ve got to get this meat all the way down in the shell; this is more fun than prom night. You stuff it however you want to stuff it; make sure the meat is all the way to the end, and they are completely stuffed.
From here, you’re going to wrap it in bacon; I use regular bacon. If you’ve watched our various videos, you know that I think it crisps up better than thick bacon. Take pride in how you wrap your bacon; I’ve seen some other people doing this, and they’re just all over the place. But I just lightly overlap each piece; it just takes one piece. The key here is the bite on these will be great where it’s covered in bacon; where the shell sticks out, it can be a little bit tough. So try to cover it as much as possible. And from here, we’re going to season them, and we’re going to talk about how we’re going to cook these things.
So, we’re going to go with a sweeter rub, and we’re also going with a sweet sauce at the end. If you guys are fans of this channel, you know that I like to think about the entire cook. Like, what’s the flavor profile of what we stuffed in it? What are we going to season it with? What are we going to sauce it with? And so, again, we’re kind of balancing all that meat with some sweeter flavors here. So I’m going to use our OG Honey Hog rub; one of our most popular rubs. It’s just a great sweet profile; it’s an all-purpose rub with a little bit of honey powder. Probably our most popular all-time rub.
Seasoning and Refrigerating the Shells
Now from here, you’ve got to put these in the fridge; you’ve got to let them sit for a little while. Let me talk about that. You’ve got to take these; you’ve got to put them in your fridge for four hours to soften up that shell. Here’s the difference in the Meat Church channel and a lot of other people out there. We’re not out here watching other people’s videos and just mimicking them because we know how to make a video and telling you that we’re coming from a place of experience. I mentioned we’d cooked these all summer; we’ve actually tested this at all sorts of stages. We have wrapped these raw shells and cooked them immediately; we have let them sit for two hours in the fridge, for three hours in the fridge—all those, the shell ends up being too tough. At the three-hour mark, it’s edible, but there’s a little chew. But let me tell you about sitting them in the fridge for four hours.
When I made them this summer, my wife, who’s my biggest critic, said my only complaint is you can’t taste the pasta. And I said, perfect, you’re not supposed to; it’s a carrier for the meat. So four hours is the mark. Also, I like to prep for tailgates the night before, so these are gonna sit in the fridge all night. It’s at least four hours; it isn’t gonna hurt to be five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. So prep these again the night before; you could probably parboil them if you want, but again, this method works great for me.
I’m gonna finish the rest of these, and I’m going to take them to the fridge, and we’ve got some more; they’ve been waiting on you, so I’ll see you back in a minute.
Smoking the Shells
These have been in the fridge for four hours, so we’re ready to go. Let’s talk about the cook, which is super simple. We’re using a Traeger Timberline XL pellet smoker with Meat Church pellets at 300 degrees. We’ve tested lower temperatures; you can get there that way. We’ve tested hotter temperatures; at 325, the bacon ends up too crispy before the shell is done. So I think 300 is the right temperature for me.
These are really easy; you could use an instant-read thermometer and temp them, but trust me, in an hour, the ground meat inside is going to be above 165 degrees. In fact, it’s going to be quite a bit higher than that, and that’s okay. So in we go; we’re not going to do anything. After one hour, we’re going to baste with a sweet barbecue sauce or glaze. So, we’ll see you guys back here in one hour when it’s time to glaze.
It’s been exactly one hour; we’ve not touched these. I’m going to grab one to show you, it’s stuck to the rack, and you can see the bacon’s perfectly cooked. These are good to go.
So I’ve got a bottle of my buddy Sauce Meat Mitch Naked; it’s a sweet sauce, one of my favorite sweet sauces. So we put some in a pot to warm up about 10 minutes ago; I’m just going to glaze these. You’re going to leave the glaze on just long enough to tack up, five, ten minutes, whatever you like. Now I’ve got insulated gloves on here; I’m not Superman. I’m going to paint these with sauce, and I’m going to let that sauce tack up for 5-10 minutes.
It’s been 10 minutes; the sauce should be nice and tacked up. Man, those look awesome; they smell awesome. We have to let them cool off, so let’s give these, you know, 15 minutes or so, and I’ll be back, and we’ll give them a bite.
Cut and Serve the Smoked Shotgun Shells
Alright, guys, they’ve cooled; let’s jump in, see how we did. Alright, I’ve got the old Messer Meister chef knife; I like to serve these at a party and just cut them into little bites like this, um, toothpick them, kind of set them out; you can see in there what they look like. So you can kind of squeeze it and see, you know it’s nice and tender now, so I know it’s going to be, you know it’s going to be good.
I feel like you should pair this with a Fort Worth craft beer, why not? Alright, let’s see how we did. Tender, nailed it. You may or may not watch this during hatch season, but that added a great element. This is a super meaty version. Like I said, you could add a lot of cream cheese or something if you don’t like that much, but this is very hearty. I know I say that a lot, but if you serve that at a party, it’s going to go a long way. You’ve got hamburger meat, the mild Italian sausage so it’s not too strong, the sweetness of the honey hog, the Meat Mitch Naked would have been good too, but we just, you know, again balanced out all that meat with the sweetness around it. Perfectly cooked bacon, easy. This is going in our tailgate playlist; we’ll put a card up here for that. Lots of little appetizer tailgate videos in there; there’ll be more coming out this fall. See you guys next week!
Smoked Shotgun Shells Recipe
- 1 lb 90\10 ground beef
- 2 boxes manicotti shells
- 2 packages, regular bacon
- 1 lb sweet Italian sausage links (5-6 sausages)
- 8 oz, farm cut shredded cheese
- Meat Church Honey Hog
- 1, C Sweet BBQ Sauce. We use Meat Mitch Naked.
- Mix the hamburger meat and sweet Italian sausage together in a large bowl.
- Stuff the manicotti shells with the meat mixture.
- Wrap each stuffed shell in a strip of bacon, making sure to cover as much of the shell as possible.
- Season the outside of the bacon-wrapped shells.
- Place the shells in the fridge for at least four hours to soften up the shells.
- Preheat your smoker to 300 degrees.
- Place the shells in the smoker and cook for one hour.
- After one hour, baste the shells with a sweet barbecue sauce or glaze.
- Let the glaze tack up for 5-10 minutes.
- Remove the shells from the smoker and let them cool for about 15 minutes before serving.
Enjoy your Smoked Shotgun Shells! They’re a great appetizer for any party or tailgate. Remember, you can always adjust the recipe to suit your taste. Happy cooking!