Great Dishes for Leftover Barbecue

Barbecue takes work, which in many cases means that if you’re going to make it, you’re going to make a whole lot of it. That way your efforts are rewarded over more than one night’s dinner, but the downside is that your fridge may end up too full of pork shoulder, brisket, or chicken.

The conundrum is one that anyone who’s ever cooked a turkey knows well and is the basis for a thousand permutations of turkey casserole.

Fortunately, barbecue starts out with more flavor than most interpretations of the illustrious holiday bird, so the methods for utilizing leftovers produce some awfully tasty results, not to mention the epic Spudzilla. You find the recipe for the monster potato and other creative ways for utilizing leftovers in the pages to come.

Crafting Dishes That Stick to Tradition

Like peanut butter and chocolate or Hall and Oates, certain things just go together. Nobody would be surprised to find baked beans at a barbecue, for example, or to see potatoes coming into play in one form or another.

The recipes in this section give you some tasty new ways to pair ingredients that have a history.

Competition Pit Beans

Seth McAllister of Team Porkrastinators calls this an easy recipe but warns that the canned beans tend to be sweet. Cut back on the sugar for a more savory version. McAllister also advises smoking the beans with hickory, which is a great complement to the flavors in the dish.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

  • 1⁄4 cup rendered brisket fat or 1⁄2 stick butter
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 28-ounce can Bush’s Original Baked
  • Beans
  • 28-ounce can Bush’s Boston Beans
  • 28-ounce can Bush’s Boston Beans, drained
  • 11⁄2 tablespoons dry rub (see Chapter 6)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup sweet barbecue sauce (see Chapter 9)
  • 1 pound leftover barbecue meat
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar

1 In a large pot, melt brisket fat or butter over medium-high heat.

2 If you’re using brisket fat, remove any chunks that didn’t render.

3 Turn the heat to high and add onion, garlic, and pepper.

4 Sauté until lightly browned.

5 Turn heat to medium-low and let the mixture sweat until the onion has softened.

6 Add the beans, rub, mustard, and barbecue sauce, and stir thoroughly.

7 Simmer over low heat until the beans have warmed through, about 5 minutes.

8 Remove from heat and stir in the meat.

9 Sprinkle brown sugar on top of the beans, but do not stir it in.

10 Place the pot on the smoker and smoke at 225 to 250 degrees for 2 hours.

11 Remove beans from smoker and stir in brown sugar.

Tip : If you don’t want to bust out the smoker, you can accomplish roughly the same results by cooking the dish in a large Dutch oven. Add 1⁄2 teaspoon of liquid smoke (see Chapter 8) if you want to make sure you get the smoke flavor. It also works just fine if you cook it in a slow cooker for 6 to 8 hours.


The brains behind Spudzilla run TC’s Memphis BBQ, a restaurant where Spudzillas fly out of the kitchen doors or, given their ample girth, are more likely wheeled out. The finished product weighs somewhere between 3 and 4 pounds, hence the name. Diners at TC’s earn a T-shirt if they conquer a Spudzilla in one sitting. More reasonable folk could slice it into portions (a good four of them, no doubt) or start with smaller spuds.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: None

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

  • 1 large baked potato (1 to 1 1⁄2 pounds) or
  • 2 or 3 smaller potatoes to equal 1 1⁄2 pounds
  • 1⁄4 cup butter
  • 1⁄4 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup nacho cheese
  • 1 cup barbecued pork
  • 1⁄2 cup baked beans
  • 1⁄3 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1⁄3 cup diced onion
  • 1⁄4 cup canned sliced jalapeños

1 Place baked potato on a plate, cut it lengthwise and crosswise, and then mash it lightly with a fork.

2 Spread the butter and sour cream over the potato.

3 Top with nacho cheese.

4 Add warmed barbecued pork.

5 Spoon baked beans over the pork on a diagonal.

6 Finish the spud with tomatoes, onion, and jalapeños.

Baking the perfect potato

Some people swear by baking their spuds in a microwave, but those are probably the same people who think instant coffee is a great notion. To bake a nice potato — one that’s soft inside and has a crispy skin, you need time and an oven. Here’s how :

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2. Scrub your spuds and stab them a couple times on each side with a fork.

3. Brush the potatoes with olive or vegetable oil.

4. Place them right on the rack, with a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch the drippings.

5. Take them out of the oven when the skin looks browned and crinkly, and the potatoes feel soft if you squeeze them.

For a potato as big as the one you want for Spudzilla, that means a good 90 minutes of baking.

Barbecue Hash

More than a fine use for leftover barbecue, Paul Kirk’s barbecue hash is comfort in a casserole pan.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • 2 cups cold barbecue brisket or pulled pork
  • 1 cup cold cooked potatoes, diced
  • 1⁄2 cup diced onions
  • 1⁄3 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1 cup canned or leftover gravy
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1⁄4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1⁄4 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Paprika, to taste

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2 Butter a 2-quart casserole pan.

3 Combine brisket or pork, potatoes, onions, bell pepper, gravy, salt, and pepper.

4 Place in buttered casserole pan.

5 Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and cheese.

6 Dot with butter, and sprinkle with paprika.

7 Bake until cheese is melted and casserole is warm throughout, about 30 minutes.

Jalapeño Shot Shells

The Smoke Hunters team makes use of its leftover brisket with this crowdpleasing snack or side dish.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

  • 6 large jalapeño peppers
  • 1⁄2 cup cream cheese
  • 1⁄4 cup Smoke Hunters’ BBQ Rub (see Chapter 6)
  • 1⁄2 cup leftover brisket
  • 1⁄2 pound thick-cut bacon

1 Slice peppers in half and clean out membrane and seeds.

2 Fill each with a small scoop of cream cheese.

3 Dust cream cheese with rub.

4 Pile on a forkful of cooked shredded brisket.

5 Wrap each with a half piece of bacon, and hold together with a toothpick.

6 Place peppers on a smoker or grill until outside of pepper is roasted.

Tip : You can get similar results without fighting the melty cream cheese by baking this dish in a 350-degree oven for about 30 minutes.

The jalapeño gamble

Can you tell how hot a pepper is going to be just by looking? Depends on who you ask. So many factors go into a pepper’s heat level (which is based on how much capsaicin it contains), that there really is no easy way to figure out just by looking or touching how hot a pepper is going to taste.

The capsaicin comes from the placenta, the middle, white material inside a pepper that holds the seeds. Capsaicin may leak into the seeds, but it doesn’t originate in them, as many people think. If you taste a pepper and find it has more punch than you care for, scrape away more of the pithy inner tissue, and you scrape away much of the heat.

It may be an urban legend, but some people insist that you can determine how hot a jalapeño is going to be by its shape. Rounder is milder, the lore has it, so pick a pointy-ended jalapeño if you’re looking for the burn.

Culture Combos : Using Barbecue Leftovers in Unexpected Ways

Apple pie didn’t get its start in America, no matter what well-worn similes may tell you. Apple pie got its start in Europe. Barbecue, on the other hand, may well be the only form of distinctly American cuisine.

If the recipes that follow are any indication, that means its ripe for combining with a little something from elsewhere.

Big R’s Smoked BBQ Spaghetti

This recipe from the Smoke Hunters team uses hot links, a kind of spicy sausage that’s a staple in Texas barbecue.

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

  • 1-pound box spaghetti
  • 1⁄4 cup Smoke Hunters’ BBQ Rub (see Chapter 6)
  • 4 smoked hot links, cut into 1⁄2-inch-thick slices
  • 1⁄2 pound smoked pork butt
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce

1 Cook spaghetti according to package instructions.

2 Place cooked spaghetti in medium foil pan.

3 Dust with Smoke Hunters’ BBQ Rub.

4 Add hot links, smoked pork, and barbecue sauce.

5 Place pan in a 225-degree barbecue pit for 20 minutes.

BBQ Fried Rice

Dan Cannon, the cook behind BBQ by Dan ( uses this recipe for leftover barbecue meat of any form or combination.

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Yield: 5 to 6 servings

  • 2 cups uncooked rice (this makes
  • 4 1⁄2 cups cooked rice)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1⁄2 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup barbecue meats (your choice: brisket, butt, chicken, pork, or rib meat, or a combination thereof)
  • 1⁄2 cup shredded smoked brisket
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

1 Cook rice according to package instructions.

2 In a small pan, scramble eggs over medium heat. Set aside.

3 In an oversized cast iron fry pan, melt butter over medium heat.

4 Add onions and cook until translucent.

5 Add all barbecue meat and cook until almost browned.

6 Add 1⁄4 cup vegetable oil.

7 Spoon in rice, while stirring, until you’ve blended all of it into the butter, onions, and meat.

8 Continue to stir, and add additional 1⁄4 cup oil if you need it.

9 Stir in 1⁄4 cup soy sauce and stir until all the rice becomes brown.

10 Add another 1⁄4 cup soy sauce to bring mixture to desired texture, color, and taste.

11 Stir in peas, carrots, and eggs, and mix thoroughly.

12 Continue stirring until vegetables are heated through.

13 Add salt and pepper to taste.

Variation: For a drier rice that works particularly well with this recipe, Dan recommends parboiling the rice, which means boiling it only partway before adding it to the recipe. To parboil, simply cook the rice for about 3/4 of the time that the package instructions call for, rinse it in cold water, and then drain it. It’ll cook further as you mix it with the other ingredients in the pan, eventually coming to the same degree of doneness that it would have through boiling and without going past its ideal, firm state.


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