I’d never heard of ABTs until I started reading barbecue blogs. Soon it became apparent to me that this appetizer is a staple of the barbecue pastime. How had I made it to the ripe old age of 33 without ever eating ABTs? I guess I’ve been running with the wrong crowd.
What are ABTs, you ask? Well, the full name is Atomic Buffalo Turds. I’m not allowed to call them that, however. Mrs. Esquire believes you shouldn’t serve your guests a “turd.” She’s probably right about that. Plus, we’re entering 18 years of “we don’t say that word in our house.” We haven’t drafted the list of “bad words” yet, but using “turd” to refer to food probably won’t fly.
Mrs. Esquire and I went back and forth about what I should call my ABTs. She said I should come up with a new name. I disagreed. You can’t serve a hamburger and call it a ground beef sandwich. It’s hamburger, plain and simple. When I serve ABTs, I don’t want to pretend like I invented the dish. Or, worse yet, I don’t want to serve them to someone in the know and get called out on my fake name. In the end, we settled on a compromise. I can call them ABTs, but if anyone asks, I have to say they’re Atomic Buffalo Tidbits. That’s good enough for me.
So you’re still probably wondering – what are these turd/tidbits? The basic recipe is fairly simple: half a jalapeno, filled with cream cheese, sometimes topped with some sort of meat, and wrapped in bacon. The traditional recipe calls for a Lil’ Smokie on top of the cream cheese.
I didn’t want to use Lit’l Smokies in my ABTs. I’ll admit, Mrs. Esquire and I have become food snobs since we moved to San Francisco. In my days growing up in Minnesota I ate many a hotdish, the central ingredient of which was usually Cream of Mushroom Soup. Now, Mrs. Esquire and I have a philosophy: prepackaged food is not an ingredient. I just couldn’t bring myself to put Lit’l Smokies on my ABTs.
I decided to buy a chorizo sausage instead of Lit’l Smokies . I didn’t know exactly how I was going to use it. I was thinking of cooking the chorizo and laying it in slices across the top of the jalapeno. Then I figured I should see if others have used chorizo. Sure enough, the often-inspiring Griffin’s Grub recently posted a recipe for ABTs with chorizo. I followed his technique.
I split open the chorizo sausage, browned the meat, and mixed it in with some neufchatel cheese (you can use cream cheese if you want).
I sliced each jalapeno in two and scraped out the seeds and the membrane. I then filled each one with the cheese-chorizo mixture. I had a few extra crumbs of chorizo, which I placed on a top of a couple of peppers.
Lastly, I wrapped each jalapeno with some bacon. I used between 1/3 and 2/3 of a slice of bacon on each, with 2/3 being too much, 1/3 being too little, and 1/2 being just about right. I used pepper bacon from Whole Foods, which I think added a nice kick to the finished product. I also dusted them with a barbecue rub. I placed them on a 300 degree Big Green Egg, set for indirect cooking (plate setter legs up), with some hickory chips for smoke.
My company arrived while the ABTs were on the grill. Consequently I didn’t watch the grill as closely as I should have. My temperature ranged from 275 to 350. I kept the ABTs on the BGE for about an hour. There’s no real science to the cooking time or temperature. I think they should be cooked low enough to impart some smoke and long enough for the bacon to crisp. Here’s the final product.
I have to admit, they were way better than I thought they were going to be. Three of us dusted off almost that entire plate. These will definitely become part of the rotation! If I do them for a bigger group I will probably use my raised grill rack so I can cook more. As always, thanks for reading!