Why It Works
- Scoring the bologna lengthwise and widthwise creates deep crevices in the surface as the meat expands. This increases the surface area exposed to flavorful smoke and creates crispy edges all over the sausage.
- A coating of mustard ensures the barbecue rub sprinkled on the outside stays in place, resulting in a flavorful crust.
For nine summers, I ran a bi-weekly backyard barbecue series. That was a modest affair, with 10 to 15 people at each event, giving me an audience to crowd test most recipes that ended up here on Serious Eats.
As I was learning to adapt to cooking for larger numbers, a particularly big turnout had me still fretting that five racks of ribs, three chickens, and spiedies were not enough, so I grabbed a three-pound chunk of bologna to throw on the smoker at the last minute.
What started as an act of desperation turned out to be one of the biggest hits of the day.
Only taking minutes to prepare by scoring the bologna, then slathering with mustard, followed by a sprinkle of barbecue rub, it took about two hours in a 255-degree smoker to form the nice dark crust I wanted.
Being an already cooked product, the interior of the bologna couldn't absorb very much smoke, but the outside was transformed into an incredibly crisp and smoky treat that added a lot of flavor and texture to the sausage on the whole. It got even better when we grilled the bologna slices, then piled them into rolls and topped with some barbecue sauce.
In the end, I had way too much food, and while there were plenty of leftover ribs and chicken to go around, it was only this smoked bologna that almost disappeared.
1 piece of bologna, 3 to 5 pounds
1/4 cup yellow mustard
2 tablespoons of your favorite barbecue rub
1 to 2 small chunks of smoking wood
10-12 potato rolls (optional, for sandwiches)
Mustard barbecue sauce (optional, for sandwiches)
Score entire bologna with a paring knife, making 1/2-inch deep cuts about every inch horizontally and vertically.
Brush bologna all over with mustard, and sprinkle with barbecue rub.
Fire up a smoker or grill to 225°F (105°C), adding chunks of smoking wood chunks when at temperature. When the wood is ignited and producing smoke, place bologna in the smoker or grill, and smoke until outside has darkened, 2 to 3 hours. Remove from smoker, let cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then slice and serve.
To make crispy smoked bologna sandwiches: Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place bologna slices on grill and cook until browned and crisp on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a roll and top with mustard barbecue sauce.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 10 to 12|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 30g||38%|
|Saturated Fat 11g||56%|
|Total Carbohydrate 7g||3%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||1%|
|Total Sugars 6g|
|Vitamin C 1mg||5%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|