When you love bacon, meatballs, smoked food… why not combine those things and celebrate Opening Day of the Cardinals season?
Start with the meatballs. I love meatballs.
2+ lbs. ground (un-tubed) salsiccia
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/2 to 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 finely minced medium yellow onion
Generous squirt of ketchup
Slightly less generous squirt of yellow mustard
Few jostles of Worcestershire sauce
Multiple dashes of Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
Handful of shakes of Slap Ya Mamma brand Cajun seasoning
Couple tsp. Italian Seasoning
Sprinkle of sage
Turn that bowl of mush into a wad of mush with your well-washed hands.
Form into 1″ or so meatballs. I set mine up on baking paper on a cookie sheet.
You’re going to wrap each meatball with some bacon. I selected National Champion Bacon from Swiss Meats in Swiss, MO. Have you ever been national champ at something? Probably not. If you were, it was something lame like tennis or chess, not freaking bacon. This stuff is awesome.
Toothpicks were necessary to keep the bacon wrapped. One each per bacon strip / meatball.
Onto the 22″ Weber Smokey Mountain you go, along with the extra bacon and a dozen or so chicken wing drummettes.
To smoke the meat, I have some Missouri pear wood. Never cooked with pear wood before, but it was free from a friend who decided a pear tree needed to be trimmed and/or die, so into the fire it went. What a wonderful smell that wood smoke generated.
As time passed, I watched a little baseball and drank a little beer.
The WSM kept at about 200-220 throughout the smoke. Since this is ground meat, particularly ground meat that had been thoroughly churned with my bare hands, I needed the instant bacteria death temperature of 165 for the center of each meatball.
Around the 2.5 hour mark, the BBQed meats were about done.
Things are looking good here.
I never flipped or turned or moved any meatball. Just the smoke and indirect WSM heat slowly brought each one up to the final temperature.
Since the meatballs varied by size and were in different locations on the grill grate, they didn’t all hit 165 simultaneously. A few went into the 170s and 180s while the last stragglers caught up to the safe temperature. No matter – the BBQ wasn’t so hot as to dry out and burn the early bloomers.
They looked good and smelled good. But, were they juicy and flavorful?
Yes, they were! I failed to capture it here in the above picture, but there was a very subtle pink smoke ring around the meatballs.
They had very much of a traditional Italian meatball flavor and texture, but had a robust (yet not overpowering) smoke flavor. They were moist and succulent. The bacon sliced nicely with a dull steak knife and didn’t get tough or crispy. Pretty damn tasty if I say so myself, and I am a hard critic of my own food.
Garnish options abound. I had half of it unsauced, and gave the other half a try with some Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce. I tried another later with some beer mustard. It was all successful.
BBQ leftovers aren’t very common, but a few of these made it to Monday and they held well in the fridge. Warmed at 70% power for 1 minute, they nuked well and needed no sauce garnish – stayed plenty juicy and tender.
This is an easy recipe that produces a unique, flavorful BBQ experience. Everyone who came over for the baseball game enjoyed them (even though the game didn’t go so well).