Using a block of cheddar, cut cheese into chunks or rectangles that will fit down into the manicotti shells. You can make these any length you want as long as the width will allow you to place them inside the shells.
Mine are about ½ inch square by 1 inch long.
Set the cubes of cheese aside.
Open the chub of ground breakfast sausage and press the manicotti shells into the sausage to fill about 1/3 of the shell.
Insert a cube of cheese pressing it in firmly with your finger but not enough to break the shell.
Now flip the shell over and fill the other side with sausage by pressing it into the sausage.
I recommend using thin sliced bacon and if you can stretch each piece of bacon a little longer than it is, this will be helpful.
I don't like to layer the bacon too much so using a single piece will be best even if it doesn't completely cover the entire shell. It's ok for part of the shell to be seen.
Wrap the bacon around the shell as tightly as you can and lay the finished product onto a pan with a rack.
Brush a little barbecue sauce (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled sauce) onto the bacon and then give it a good sprinkle with my original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub).
Set up your smoker for cooking at 225°F for 2 hours using indirect heat. If your smoker uses a water pan, fill it up.
I used the Camp Chef Woodwind pellet smoker for these with Pit Boss competition blend pellets. This is a mix of hickory, maple and apple.
If you are using a different smoker, you can use either of these woods, a mix of these woods or your own favorite.
Once the smoker is ready, place the pan of appetizers onto the grate and close the lid.
Let them cook for 2 hours at 225°F.
At the end of 2 hours, increase the heat to 275°F to help crisp up the bacon. Let them cook for an additional 30 minutes at this higher heat or until the bacon is as crisp as you like it.
Brush the smoked shotgun shells with Jeff's barbecue sauce (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled sauce) about 10 minutes before they are finished cooking.
Serve the smoked shotgun shells to your guests and accept the praise graciously!
- While not a huge deal, most of the manicotti shells available in the States are cut diagonally on the end. In my opinion, it would look much more like a smoked shotgun shell if the ends were straight cut like most cannelloni shells. Unfortunately, these are difficult to find.
- These are very rich with the hot sausage. Another great option would be to make a meatloaf mixture with either all ground beef, or half ground beef and half ground sausage. Mix in onions, peppers, etc. and stuff that into the shells.
Try your own ideas with these smoked shotgun shells and let me know if you come up with something amazing.