I absolutely love when the Chicago weather cooperates, and I am able to cook outside. Grilling and smoking outdoors is something my husband and I are truly passionate about. If you are new to the world of smoking and want to learn more, check out my Summertime Barbecue Smoke Out blog, where I really go in-depth about the subject. There is nothing better than being outside enjoying a cocktail and grilling out.
If you like to be outdoors like me, be sure to check out The Chopping Block's class calendar. All summer long we have patio classes like Grilling Boot Camp, date nights or wine classes. There is a little something for everyone whether you like to get your hands dirty and cook your own meal or just sit back and watch a chef demonstration cooking class. Subject matters range from pizza, seafood, steaks and much more!
A recipe I have been wanting to try for a while on my trusty Pit Barrel smoker is Armadillo Eggs. If you have never heard of them before, they are a classic Texas BBQ staple. They get their name because when they are wrapped in bacon they resemble an armadillo’s tough exterior shell and for the fact that they are similar to the famous Scotch Egg.
Armadillo eggs are comprised of cream cheese stuffed jalapenos that are wrapped in pork sausage and smoked or grilled. Each pitmaster has their own secrets, of course. There are so many variations to the ingredients you can make to customize this recipe and make it your own. The jalapeno filling may have a special blend of cheeses, seasonings and herbs. The ground meat portion can be any combination of proteins or even keep it vegetarian and use plant-based ground meat; feel free to get creative here. To make it really flavorful, it may be heavily seasoned with any kind of spices you may like. You may or may not want to brush them with BBQ sauce during the smoking process. Or just save the sauce for dipping!
I had to take my own liberties with the classic recipe, of course, and added a little more pork to the party by making mine bacon-wrapped armadillo eggs. The possibilities are endless with these armadillo eggs! I have even seen them breaded and fried instead of smoking them for a crispy version.
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 2-3 hours
Yield: 12 pieces
12 jalapeños, hollowed out
1 pound cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded cheddar
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1.5 pounds ground pork
1.5 pounds ground beef
3-4 Tablespoon of your favorite spice blend (I used Swamp venom, look it up!)
12 pieces bacon
Favorite BBQ sauce for basting, optional
1. Preheat your smoker to 250°F using any smoking hardwood (hickory, oak, maple, etc.).
2. Slice a little of the top off the jalapeño and take out the seeds and set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, garlic powder and season with salt and pepper.
4. Mix the ground pork and beef with your favorite spice blend, season with salt and pepper, and mix thoroughly.
5. Spoon or pipe the cream cheese mixture liberally into each of the cored and seeded jalapenos. Use the back of the spoon to press the filling all of the way into the jalapeno if necessary.
6. Wrap each jalapeño with the pork and beef mixture. Use your hands to ensure the sausage is covering the entire jalapeño and roll back and forth into an egg shape.
7. Wrap each meat covered jalapeño with bacon. It will likely take two pieces per armadillo egg. Secure with toothpicks, if needed.
8. Refrigerate the armadillo eggs for 30 minutes or until firm.
9. Place the bacon wrapped armadillo eggs on the smoker over indirect heat and close the lid. Smoke until the internal temperature reads 165°F. This usually takes around 2-3 hours, depending on the size of your armadillo eggs.
I opted not to baste these eggs in BBQ sauce because I was very pleased with the grill lines and didn’t want to cover them up. I wanted to give you some notes to consider if you attempt to make this recipe, but as always, please feel free to comment with any questions you may have. Since these are smoked armadillo eggs, the temperature is going to be hovering right around 250°F, and these will take a couple of hours to cook. The meat will be cooked before the 2 hour mark but the length of time will allow the smoke to really penetrate that layer of sausage and soften the jalapeno. This also means the jalapeno will retain a little crunch. Not like a raw jalapeno, but like an al dente noodle: soft, with a little texture. The bacon will be soft cooked bacon. Not soggy bacon, but not crispy either. The fat will be almost completely rendered because of the long cook time, and you’ll just be able to bite right through the bacon. If you want crispy bacon, crank up the heat in your smoker to 400° F for the last few minutes of cooking or place them under the broiler in your oven for 2-3 minutes on each side. Finally, if you don’t have a smoker, no worries, these can be done in the oven. Place the armadillo eggs on an elevated rack above a baking sheet and bake at 375° until the internal temperature is 165°F.
These armadillo eggs make a great appetizer or even serve them with your favorite sides like potato salad and slaw as shown above for a complete meal. They can easily be frozen before or after cooking so you can make a bunch and have them on hand. They also reheat really well in a 375° oven until warmed through.
I would love to see and hear about the different variations you come up with on our TCB private Facebook group. If you want to show off your grilling chops on your own grill, we also have virtual grilling classes on Sunday afternoons. Our next one is Virtual Sunday Dinner on the Grill: Grilled Pork Chops on Sunday, June 27 at 4pm CST. You can learn to grill on your own grill like a pro and make this beautiful dish!