Jeff Phillips started like most of us — with a smoker in his backyard. But unlike most of us, the drive to turn barbecue into a business took over his life. Phillips has developed his own rub and sauce recipes, created one of the first websites about smoking meat, one of the first online barbecue forums, and today distributes The Smoking Meat newsletter, which has upwards of 150,000 subscribers. In 2012, he published Smoking Meat: The Essential Guide to Real Barbecue. Today, Phillips’ website has one of the largest collection of barbecue recipes available.

These smoked meatballs are a twist on the smoked jalapeño poppers you know as ABTs. They’re packed with tons of cheddar cheese and more jalapeño than you’d normally add to a meatball. As if that’s not enough, they’re stuffed with cream cheese, and they’re small enough to pop in your mouth so you get the full effect as you bite into it.

YIELD: The recipe makes about 30 meatballs depending on what size you make them.

Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Smoker Temp: 225-240°F
Meat Finish Temp: 160°F
Recommended Wood: Pecan

½ lb. ground beef (85/15)
½ lb. ground breakfast sausage (hot)
1 cup jalapenos, diced (3-4 large jalapenos)
½ cup cheddar, shredded (mild or sharp)
2 Tbsps Jeff’s original rub
4 oz. cream cheese

Clean and dice the jalapeños. Add ground beef, ground sausage, jalapeños, Jeff’s original rub and cheddar to the bowl. Combine the ingredients with your hands but do not over mix.

Take enough meat mixture into your hands to make a 1-inch meatball. Roll it between your palms then flatten it out in your hands to stuff.

Place a ¼ inch piece of cream cheese into the center of the flattened meatball. Wrap the meatball back around the cream cheese and roll in your palms again to give it a uniform round shape. Make all of the meatballs and lay them on a Bradley rack, Weber grill pan or other pan for easy transport to and from the smoker.

Smoke the meatballs at about 225-240°F with indirect heat.

Source: Jeff Philips,