Flowers in bloom at the ranch

Atomic Buffalo Turds (or ABTs from here on out as the whole name is too long to type) are always a crowd pleaser at any barbecue, tailgate or gathering. I don’t know the history of them, where they came from or how they got their name. I tried to Giggle it (yeah, I call it Giggle, not Google, so what?), but didn’t really come up with anything, just that they have been around for a while. I know I’ve been making them for over six years at least. Funny how I’ve never bothered to do a write-up on them before.

Legacy posing for the camera

One thing I will insist on…they are NOT poppers!! Poppers are battered and fried (and do not have bacon). These are not them. Go to a restaurant if you want those.

Preparing the ABTs

I’m not going to list a bunch of ingredients that you need for ABTs. Pretty much its anything your imagination can dream up. They can have bacon (or not), you can mix up your cheeses (but you should use some cream cheese otherwise it just melts out). You can slice your jalapenos in half boatwise like I did above, or just cut the end off, core out the middle, stuff and then wrap in bacon (we are not fans of this version. Don’t really like the jalapeno to stuffing ration). There aren’t really any rules. Here are the basics that you need:

  • 12 fresh jalapeno peppers
  • 12 slices of bacon
  • 24 Lil Smokeys
  • 1 package of cream cheese (room temperature)
  • bbq rub of your choice
  • toothpicks

So how do I do mine? I like to slice my jalapenos in half and then using a spoon remove the seed and veins.  Next, fill the halved jalapeno level with your cream cheese (cream cheese and other cheese mixture, if you so choose). Then, we like to place a Lil Smokey on top of the cream cheese. Wrap your jalapeno with half a slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Finally sprinkle your ABT with the BBQ rub of your choice. That is the original way I learned how to make them. Pretty simple, huh?

(Quick note….wear some gloves!! I usually wear nitrile gloves that I bring home from the lab. You will get capsaicin on your hands and washing your hands does not always get it off. And if you touch a sensitive area like the skin around your eyes, lips or other areas I won’t mention, it can really burn. Trust me on this.)

Assembled and ready for the BBQ rub

Now they are ready to go onto the smoker. As with the Turtle Eggs we did yesterday, I don’t believe that you need to worry too much about how you cook these. I will say that they longer you cook them, the more they mellow out. I’ve done them at a high temperature in a gas grill and they were spicy!! But if you take your time with them, the heat will not be overpowering. I generally like to smoke them in the range of 250-300F. If you are using a gas grill, light one burner and then place the ABTs over the unlit burner (this is called indirect cooking, if you did not know).  At 250-300F, they will generally take about an hour to cook. How do you know when they are done? Simple….when the bacon has become crispy. How crispy you like your bacon, I’ll leave up to you, some like it more done then others.

Onto the smoker

Now that they are on the smoker, you’ve got some time on your hands to kill. Pour yourself a drink. Sit down, relax and talk with your friends and family. And maybe if you are on a ranch, and maybe if you just picked up a used 1948 Remington 511 the week before and maybe you are just dying to shoot it….then go ahead. But that may just be me.

Nice shootin, Tex!

I generally check on the ABTs after about 30 minutes, just to see how they are doing and if they need to be rotated around to ensure an even cook.

30 minutes in

The ABTs took awhile longer than the Turtle Eggs to cook. Reason being I had a pretty hot pile of coals going in the offset chamber of my smoker and the Eggs were closer to that. But like I always say, its bbq, not rocket science. And as long as you have something for the masses to nibble on while they wait, it’s all good.

Time to eat!

As usual, once I pulled the ABTs off, everybody crowded around to get some. I believe there might have been a few burned tongues as some people just can’t wait for them to cool down before diggin in. The horde had been appeased long enough to get the rest of the dinner started.

Another angle

Once you’ve done these a few times, let your imagination run wild. Why not pulled pork or brisket mixed in instead of the Lil Smokey? Shrimp would be good. You could go another route and maybe mix in some fruit. I imagine pineapple might be a good addition. Whatever you think sounds good. The sky is the limit. One side note, it might sound like a good idea (or at least a laugh), but do not ever, ever, ever make them with Habaneros. Unless you are just a glutton for punishment or have no taste buds at all. Once again, trust me on this. I did it ONCE….ONCE and NEVER again.

One of these things is not like the other ones