How To Make The Best Smoked Shotgun Shells In Virginia
December 7, 2023
Ashburn, VA: My 19-year-old granddaughter asked me what a “Florida ounce was.”
I looked at her like she had two heads. I’ve been cooking and smoking food for over 50+ years and I’ve never heard of a “Florida ounce.” I asked her to tell me more.
She said when they used to live in Florida and she saw a Florida ounce, she thought nothing of it. Then they moved to a different state. She continued to see Florida ounces. This confused her. Why would another state use Florida ounces? Then she said she looked it up and Google didn’t know how to translate Florida ounces into regular ounces.
I paused for a sec. Then it all hit me like a ton of bricks. I put my hand on her shoulder and said “Bless your heart. Baby, Fl oz” stands for “fluid ounces,” not Florida ounces.” I wish I had a picture of her face. It was a combination of realizing something new mixed with extreme embarrassment. Priceless.
I told my wife about it that night. She almost spit up her tea. Then my wife said something I found both hilarious and gross. My wife said:
“Well Earl, At Least She Didn’t Ask You What Kentucky Jelly Is.”
Smoked Shotgun Shells are my granddaughter’s favorite. They are always a hit when I serve them. Here is exactly how I make them.
- 2 boxes manicotti shells
- 2 packages, regular bacon
- 1 lb 90/10 ground beef
- 1 lb sweet Italian sausage links (5-6 sausages)
- 8 oz, farm cut shredded cheese
- 2-3 Tbsp Bald Buck Seasoning: Bold Taste (Use Slow Burn for spicy)
- 1 cup of your favorite BBQ Sauce that’s sweet
- Take the Italian sausage out of its skin. In a big bowl, mix the sausage, ground beef, Bald Buck Seasoning and shredded cheese together.
- Fill up the manicotti tubes with the mixture. Make sure they are completely stuffed.
- Cover each manicotti tube with a strip of bacon, making sure to cover as much as you can.
- Cover each manicotti tube with a strip of bacon, making sure to cover as much as you can
- Put the tubes on a big flat pan. Then put the pan in the fridge. Cover with foil or saran wrap. They need to rest in the fridge for at least 4 hours. I’ve found it best to let them rest 14 hours or more.
- Get your smoker to 300 degrees. It’s a good idea to use middle-strength wood or pellets. Hickory, pecan, etc.
- Put the shells on a baking rack and then put the rack in the smoker.
- Smoke em for 1 hour. The meat inside the shell should be above 165 degrees and the shell tube should be soft.
- Brush with BBQ sauce.
- Smoke em for another 10-15 minutes.
- Remove and let them rest for at least 15 minutes.
- Slice, serve and enjoy!
- I’ve been making these for a long time. I’ve tested a lot of things. One of the most important things I’ve tested is the rest time after you stuff the shells. Anything before 4 hours will lead to tough or chew shells. They need to rest 4 hours minimum. However, I budget for at least 14 hours. That seems to be the sweet spot.
- You can use whatever meat mixture you like. I’ve been making these for 11 years now. I’ve learned that the 90/10 beef mixed with Italian pork sausage is the best combination. It gives you the perfect balance of fat and flavor.
- Bald Buck Seasoning is one of the best-kept BBQ secrets. It gives your meat this unique flavor people cant place their fingers on. A little of this stuff goes a long way so don’t be too heavy handed with it. 1-2 Tbsps per pound of meat is the winning ratio. There are a lot of YouTube videos on this seasoning but below is the best one.