In partnership with Cabot, which makes everything cheesy and delicious.
If you’re a foodie and have been following food trends on TikTok, you probably have seen that Shotgun Shells are the latest craze. People are making them all over the country (and probably the world) and are putting their spins on these unique items. And since food trends are fun and often actually tasty, I figured why not give it a go? So I grabbed some of my go-to Cabot Creamery Cooperative cheese and flavors that I particularly like (southwestern flavors of green chile and spice) and put together my spin on Traeger Smoked Green Chile Shotgun Shells. Give these a try– they’re easy to make and would be amazing party food!
WHAT ARE SHOTGUN SHELLS?
According to the internet, Shotgun Shells are the gimmicky food of the summer of 2022. They’re easy to make, tasty and kind of unique. And if you ignore the thin piece of pasta in the dish, they’re nearly keto too!
The jist of the dish is: a tube of pasta (in this case, a manicotti shell), stuffed full of a blend of cream cheese, shredded cheese and ground beef. Then that filled tube is wrapped in thin-sliced bacon, seasoned and grilled for about 90 minutes until cooked through and the pasta is tender.
These creations are a fantastic appetizer but could be served as a main dish because they’re so rich and filling. But you’d probably only need a salad on the side!
MY VARIATION ON SMOKED SHOTGUN SHELLS
Because it’s harvest season in Colorado, we wanted to find a way to integrate something fresh from the farmstands in this cook. The obvious decision was freshly-roasted green chiles, picked up from the local farm stand a few hours earlier, that were chopped and added to the cheese and meat blend.
The fresh green chiles (you can often buy them in varying degrees of spiciness) add a really great boost of flavor to this dish, and cut through the ground beef a bit. We went with medium chiles in this recipe, and used 2 in a pound of beef. Admittedly, next time we’d up the amount of chiles in the filling, so that every bite had some fresh chile kick.
USING THE BEST CHEESE TO MAKE SMOKED SHOTGUN SHELLS
For this recipe (like nearly all we make), we used Cabot Creamery Cooperative’s dairy products. That included a block of their delicious cream cheese (it’s silky smooth and has just the right amount of tang) and a bag of their Seriously Sharp shredded cheddar cheese.
We love using Cabot products because they’re a farmer-owned coop, a certified B-Corp, and their cheeses are consistently amazing. With 1-year-old twins at home, we are happy to serve them Cabot cheeses because we know that the farmers are involved with the entire process and our kids are eating real foods, not stuff filled with hormones and chemicals.
In this recipe, we used a bag of Cabot’s pre-shredded Seriously Sharp Cheddar cheese, which is nutty, slightly crumbly and full of flavor. You could definitely use one of the bars of Seriously Sharp Cheddar and shred it yourself, but the convenience of one fewer item to dirty in this recipe was well worth it!
For the Cabot cream cheese, we found that if you microwave the block of cheese (out of the packaging, and on a plate) for about 15 seconds, it softens it up adequately to make blending it with the ground beef really easy.
CONTINUING THE SOUTHWEST FLAVOR TRAIN
In addition to the fresh roasted green chiles throughout the filling of these smoked shotgun shells, we decided to use some green chile stew we picked up from our favorite local Mexican restaurant. Studded with pieces of tender pork, tomatoes and green chiles, it’s super flavorful and spicy and seemed like a great substitute for the traditional BBQ sauce that has been used on similar shotgun shell recipes
DON’T FORGET THE DIP FOR SHOTGUN SHELLS!
Finally, we can’t forget about serving these cheesy smoked green chile shotgun shells with a dip– because everyone likes to dip! Or maybe it’s because we have precocious 1-year-old twins who are eating now and they are always game for some dip.
For this dish, we pulled together a quick spicy ranch sauce as the dip to accompany the smoked shotgun shells. See the note at the end of the recipe card for how we made the sauce, also using our favorite Cabot Creamery Cooperative dairy!
- Cabot Seriously Sharp shredded cheese
- Cabot cream cheese
- Ground beef
- Manicotti shells
- Fresh roasted green chiles
- Prepared green chile stew
- Smoke Junkie seasoning
WHY COOKING SHOTGUN SHELLS ON THE TRAEGER WORKS
The low and slow nature of the Traeger grill, paired with the boosted flavor from wood-fired heat, makes for the perfect way to cook these shotgun shells. You definitely want to cook them low and slow because the manicotti shells are not cooked in advance of assembly.
By cooking them low and slow, you give the entire dish the chance to meld together and for the juices in the meat (both the beef and the bacon) to make the noodles turn out tender. We cooked these smoked green chile shotgun shells on the Traeger for about 90 minutes at 225* and then turned up the heat at the end to crisp the bacon and set the green chile sauce we had basted them with.
If you’re short on time, you could par-boil the manicotti shells ahead of time, and then stuff the cheese/meat mixture in them. It would cut down on the cooking time by probably 30 minutes, and you’d have a similar delicious result.
- Assemble your ingredients.
- Place the block of cream cheese in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave it for 15-30 seconds until just soft.
- Allow to cool back to room temperature.
- While the cream cheese cools, peel and chop the green chiles. Taste for spiciness and adjust the number of chiles you’ll use according to your palate preferences.
- To the bowl of softened cream cheese, add the ground beef, the chopped chiles and the bag of shredded Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar.
- Using a wooden spoon or spatula, mix until well combined and consistent in texture.
- Scoop the meat mixture into a ziplock bag and remove the excess air from the bag.
- Prepare your cookie sheet by lining it with foil and then placing a wire rack atop the foil.
- Unbox the manicotti, and unwrap the bacon.
- Using scissors, snip the corner off of the ziplock bag to make a piping bag.
- One at a time, squeeze the meat mixture into the dry manicotti shells, filling as much as possible. You may need to turn it over and fill it from the other side too.
- Repeat with the remaining shells until you use up all the meat (ours made about 12 shells).
- Once all the shells are filled, wrap each shell with bacon. Wind it tightly and flatly around the shells, overlapping a bit. Each shell took about 1.5 pieces of bacon when we made them.
- Place the bacon-wrapped shells on the prepared tray and season generously with my Smoke Junkie seasoning.
- Place the tray in the fridge for 3-4 hours. This allows the shells to begin to soften.
- About 2 hours before serving, preheat the Traeger grill to 225*.
- Once the grill is hot, place the entire prepared tray in the grill and close the lid.
- Allow the shotgun shells to cook for about 80 minutes.
- Use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of the stuffed shells. When they’re hitting about 150*, spoon a generous amount of green chile stew over each shell.
- Turn up the heat to 350* and cook for 15-20 more minutes, until the sauce has set and the internal temperature reaches 165*.
- Remove the tray from the grill and allow the shotgun shells to cool slightly.
- Serve with spicy ranch and enjoy!
SIMILAR RECIPES THAT ARE CHEESY AND DELICIOUS
Here are some other recipes that have lots of cheese and are the perfect party foods for upcoming gatherings this fall:
Products used in this cook:
- Our family loves using Cabot Creamery Co-operative’s cream cheese and seriously sharp cheddar cheeses, and they work particularly well in this kind of recipe. Not only does the quality of the cheese stand out, but the distinct and sharp flavor of the cheddar cheese comes through really well with this combination of ingredients. We are using amazing ingredients in our cooking, but we are also using products made by a certified B-Corp that has an intent focus on sustainability, land stewardship, and being good community citizens. As a B-Corp, Cabot Creamery Co-operative has hung their hat on being a positive contributor to the community and environmental problems. As an elementary teacher, getting to partner with a company like Cabot means that I’m demonstrating to my students how corporate citizenship can make a positive impact!
- Traeger grill– We use our grill to cook everything from steaks and roasts to dessert and sides. It is versatile and imparts some great wood-fired flavor in everything we cook!
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Cheesy Smoked Green Chile Shotgun Shells on the Traeger
- Bowl & spatula
- Quart ziplock bag
- Cookie sheet
- Aluminum foil
- Wire rack
- 1 bag of Cabot Seriously Sharp shredded cheese
- 1 block of Cabot cream cheese
- 1 pound of ground beef
- 1 pound thin-sliced bacon
- 2 tbsp Smoke Junkie seasoning
- 1 package of uncooked manicotti shells
- 2 fresh roasted green chiles
- 1 cup prepared green chile stew
- Pull out all of your ingredients
- Microwave the block of cream cheese for 15-30 seconds until just soft
- Transfer cream cheese to a mixing bowl and cool to room temperature
- Peel and chop the green chiles and taste for spiciness (adjusting the amount you use based on temperature and your palate)
- To the cream cheese, add the ground beef, the chopped chiles, and the bag of shredded Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar cheese
- Use a wooden spoon or spatula to combine the ingredients until consistent in texture
- Transfer the meat mixture into a ziplock bag
- Prep the cookie sheet- line with foil and then put in wire rack
- Using scissors, cut the corner off of the ziplock bag
- Squeeze the meat mixture into the dry manicotti shells, filling as much as you can (You may need to turn it over and fill from the other side too)
- Repeat with the remaining shells
- Wrap each filled shell with bacon, winding tightly and overlapping the strips
- Put the bacon-wrapped shells on the prepared tray and season them generously on all sides with my Smoke Junkie
- Put the tray in the fridge for 3-4 hours
- About 2 hours before serving, preheat your Traeger grill to 225*
- When the grill is hot, put the tray in the grill and close the lid
- Allow the shotgun shells to smoke for about 80 minutes
- When the internal temperature of the shells reaches 150*, spoon green chile stew over each stuffed tube
- Turn up the grill to 350* and cook for 15-20 more minutes, until the sauce has set and the internal temperature reaches 165*
- Remove the tray from the grill and transfer the shells to a paper towel-lined plate to cool slightly
- Serve with spicy ranch and enjoy!
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