Taste Great, Just Don't Step in It!

(From the August 2011 edition of the North Sac News. Part of the Summer BBQ Series.)

A few years ago I discovered the best tasting snack ever to come off a grill. And after eating it I think you would agree. The only issue you may have with this snack is its name- which just might scare you away from trying it. This tasty addiction is affectionately called an "Atomic Buffalo Turd"- but let's just call it an ABT for short. The name stems from its appearance. Once cooked it resembles something you would try very hard to avoid stepping in while walking thru the countryside. An ABT is a Jalapeno half stuffed with a cream cheese mix and wrapped with a piece of bacon. Sounds simple right? Well it is but there is more to it than that so if the name hasn't scared you off let's get started.
ABT's are very popular with fans of my BBQ so I like to make at least 40 at a time. To make these you will need 20 Jalapeno peppers. Pick the longest and thickest you can find. You will also need 2 blocks of cream cheese, 2 packs of thin non-smoke flavored bacon (the smoke flavor will be added naturally during cooking) 2 small cans of chopped black olives, 2 bushels of cilantro, a large tablespoon of chopped garlic and 1 tablespoons of dry minced onion. Start by unwrapping the cream cheese and placing in a large mixing bowl. Set the bowl aside and allow to sit at room temperature so the cream cheese can soften. This will make it much easier to work with later. Now let's prepare the jalapenos. Before we go any further please do yourself a favor and put on a pair of food handling gloves and a dust mask. This may sound extreme but the fumes from the peppers are very strong and without the gloves and mask you will...well let's just say you will wish you had listened to me. One by one remove the stems and slice the jalapeno in half lengthwise. Now under running water use a small spoon to scrap out the seeds and membrane until only the green shell of the pepper remains. When done place all the jalapeno halves in a large colander and give them a good rinse. Leave the colander in your sink and allow the Jalapenos to air dry while preparing the filling.

When first making ABT's I would mix the cream cheese and the other ingredients together in a food processer. This did a great job of mixing everything but the filling came out way to airy. Instead, mix all the ingredients except the cream cheese in a food processor until blended well and then add to the cream cheese bowl. Mix well by hand. I use a potato masher for this step. Now place the finished mixture in the refrigerator for about an hour to harden. Conversely, remove the bacon from the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature to soften. Now it's time for assembly. Scoop a heaping amount of the mixture into each jalapeno half. Fill the entire shell end to end. Now tightly wrap a single slice of bacon around each half. Try to overlap as little as possible. If one piece of bacon is too large for the pepper half you can cut it to size. If necessary place 1 or 2 toothpicks thru the pepper to keep the bacon from unraveling. As you assemble each half, place on a cookie sheet, plate or whatever you have that will hold all the ABT's without stacking. Finally, sprinkle your favorite BBQ spice rub on all sides. Refrigerate until ready for the grill.
The best method for cooking ABT's is low and slow over indirect heat. Bank a chimney full of unlit charcoal (approximately 75 briquettes) to one side of your grill and place a disposable aluminum pan full of water on the other side. Add about 15 lit coals on top of the unlit charcoal and throw on a good size chunk of your favorite hardwood or fruitwood. Place the ABT's on the grate over the water pan, opposite the burning charcoal. Keeping the cooker temperature around 250 degrees, the ABT's will be done when the bacon has darkened and is mildly crispy-Approximately 2-3 hours. Remove and eat. They may look ugly but I bet you will not be able to eat just one. Oh yea, have a glass of milk close by. They can be hot!
The Midnight Smoker BBQ