Sunday, April 10, 2016

Pig Shots and The Smoking Bacon and Hog Cookbook

We are cooking for a friend's card game this coming week and one of the appetizers that we are cooking are "pig shots".

Big Green Egg appetizer recipe, grilling appetizer recipe, tailgating recipe
The Pig Shot appetizer.

Apologies to Billy Joel but I kept singing this as I was making them.

Because you had to be a pig shot, din' ya? You had to open up your mouth.
You had to be a pig shot, din' ya, all your friends were so knocked out

And these flavor bombs will knock your friends out.  Pig shots have been around for a little while and show up from time to time in online BBQ forums. They seem a little involved but they are actually pretty easy.

Big Green Egg appetizer recipe, grilling appetizer recipe, tailgating recipe
Slices of hot Italian sausage wrapped with thick bacon form the "shot glass".  These are then stuffed with BBQ rub, cream cheese, and brown sugar then smoked.

easy grill appetizers, stunning grill appetizers, ideas for tailgating
All rolled up, filled, and ready to go onto the smoker. 

I cooked these indirect on my Large Big Green Egg at 275°F for right at 90 minutes.  It was set up indirect using a cast iron plate setter.  The fuel was Parker lump mixed with about a cup of cherry wood chips.

kamado appetizer recipe, tailgate recipe, appetizer idea pork
I crowned each with a dollop of homemade BBQ sauce.

These didn't last long at all and I'm going to have to triple the recipe for the card game, I think.

These are delicious as written but the beauty of the Pig Shot is that you can fill the "shot glass" with just about anything - it's a "flexible flavor delivery platform". This version that I made is from Bill Gillespie's new book.

new cookbook, grilling book

The Smoking Bacon and Hog Cookbook
Bill Gillespie with Tim O’Keefe
Page Street Publishing

As the title proclaims, The Smoking Bacon and Hog Cookbook is all about smoking “the whole pig and nothing but the pig”.  It is Bill Gillespie’s follow up to his first book, Secrets to Smoking.  Bill is a long time fixture on the BBQ circuit and has won on BBQ’s biggest stages, including World Championships at The American Royal Invitational and Jack Daniels Invitational.  In this new book, Bill shares his BBQ wisdom and a horde of creative pork recipes.

Physical Description

The book is a medium sized paperback at 8 x 9”, which makes it useful when you need to book open on a counter top.  Speaking of that, this book has premium binding so it opens up flat and pages won’t flip themselves while you’re trying to cook – that’s a small detail with big benefits making it easier to use.  It seems like a small book in your hands but it’s full of a lot of solid information.

The premium binding keeps the book from trying to close itself or flip pages.  I wish that ALL cookbooks had this feature because pages always seem to flip themselves just when your hands are covered in gunk, right?


The recipes are mostly pretty involved but are easy enough for a beginner to follow.  The books says it’s geared towards cookers like Weber Smokey Mountain, Humphrey’s (GREAT insulated cooker!), and barrel smokers but I had no problem cooking the recipes on my Green Egg and Grill Dome kamado grills.

The book is organized into 7 sections.  

1.       The pig, the whole pig, and nothing but the pig – A brief but efficient introduction with information on types of hogs, smokers, wood, charcoal, and time versus temperature. 
2.       Belly of the beast - Most books might have 1, maybe 2 bacon recipes.  This chapter boasts 7 bacon recipes, many more other cured meats like pancetta or Canadian bacon, and plenty of ideas for using them, such as; balsamic onion jam, bacon wrapped onion rings, or maple bacon butter.
3.       Sausage, sausage, and more sausage – They say never watch sausage or politics being made but homemade sausage is crazy good so Bill spills the goods on making your own sausages like Italian, andouille, breakfast sausage and more.  He also gives some fun recipes for using the sausage like the Philly cheese stuffed fatty.
4.       Ribs, chops, and loins – Bill shares his competition ribs recipe which would be worth the price of the book alone.  In addition, he created recipes for Apple Smoked Baby Back Ribs, Chinese Five-Spice Marinated ribs and Country style ribs with Jerk Seasoning.  The Honey Glazed Smoked Pork Chops and Bacon Wrapped Tenderloin also sound delicious.
5.       Butts, shoulders, and hams – Bill reveals his recipe and techniques for his award winning pork butt as well as pork picnic and hams.  In a smart move, he gives recipes that use leftovers from the three big meats to create new and exciting dishes like pork burnt ends, pork eggrolls, tacos 2 ways, and a three meat Cubano sandwich.
6.       Going whole hog – Bill gives you everything you need to go whole hog.  In this chapter, he gives tips on buying a hog and shares his recipe.  He breaks down how to trim, inject and coat your hog.  He then gives cooking temps and times depending on a few factors.  He provides 18 color step by step pictures to help develop the concept he uses.
7.       Sauces and rubs – He covers all of the bases with the classic sauces, such as; KC style, Bourbon, Honey, Eastern Carolina (my fav), Alabama white sauce, and Carolina gold, another of my favorites.

In addition to the Pig Shots, we also made some other things from this book, such as the bacon wrapped onion rings and bacon wrapped chicken wings. 

smoking wood for kamado grills
I didn't have any sugar maple wood but I did have these Maple mini-cubes from Mojobricks so I used them.

kamado wings, how to smoke wings, bacon wrapped wings
The Grill Dome fired up and the wings just going on. I cooked them a little hotter (290f) than the book called for.

kamado bacon wrapped wings
Bacon wrapped wings getting their tan on. 
kamado wings
Time to sauce the wings! 

Bacon wrapped onion rings on the Grill Dome.

kamado appetizer, tailgating recipes
Onion rings done and served with the Sriracha mayo.

Just a heads up.  I'm pretty sure Bill is using his home cured bacon for these recipes.  The bacon I make at home has slices that are considerably longer than what you might buy at the store.  So when he says a recipe takes one piece of bacon per item, it will be more like 1 1/2 pieces of store bought bacon.


The Smoking Bacon and Hog Cookbook is packed with eye catching photography, which I think is important to a cookbook for inspiration, direction, and visual cues.  The book has mostly finished and plated pictures but it also includes a few “how to’s”.  The publisher did a good job of blending pictures in throughout, some in text, some full page photos, and step by steps.  The photographer is Ken Goodman who just happened to shoot another book that I am currently reviewing.  Ken is well regarded as not only an exceptional photographer but he has 20 years experience as a chef.


The Smoking Bacon and Hog Cookbook surprised me.  I thought it was going to be a lame attempt to jump on the bacon trend but Bill Gillespie did a fantastic job with putting together a solid book that ignores the “johnny come lately’s” and relies on Bill’s 20+ years of experience with the art of smoking pork. 

I think that anyone with an interest in grilling will benefit from this book but I think the person that will get the most out of it is the serious BBQ enthusiast – the Eggheads, Weber fans, and people that like to make their own rubs and sauces. 


5 stars – an absolute resource, will refer to frequently
4 stars – good cookbook with value added tips, photos, guides, and other content
3 stars – Good, average cookbook, glad to have it on my shelf
2 stars – a recipe collection
1 star – would give it away to someone else to get rid of it, but only if I didn't like them very much

[FTC Standard Disclaimer] I received a copy of The Smoking Bacon and Hog Cookbook at no costs. I received Mojobricks free of charge because the owner is on our Memphis in May team and we are using them in our cookers at the World Championship cook-off.


  1. Everything looks delicious! Especially the onion rings - what an awesome side a couple of those would make with a burger. Pure inspiration for sure!

  2. Great review! I love the pig shots. We just finished reading the book too. We are feasting on some maple cured bacon from one of his recipes tonight.