I recently traveled to Saluda, NC for a largely non-food related vacation. A group of us went for a festival and stayed with a friend’s parents. Behind the house is a lovely garden with a variety of well tended fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Blueberries and currants can be eaten off the bushes. Even the apples and pears, not yet fully matured, were good. The tomatoes that were ripe were quickly picked and eaten with dinner. Speaking of dinner, we had a feast of smoked brisket and pork shoulder with baked beans and some grilled jalapenos and corn.
Long story short, by the time I left, I had in my possession a large supply of jalapenos. Stuffing them with cheese and making jalapeno poppers seemed like a natural thing to do with over a dozen fresh peppers.
Jalapeno poppers are a gift of spiciness, crunch, and cheese from the bar gods to the lowly patron clamoring for something to eat with a drink. The combination presented by this classic bar snack is amazing. The crunchy exterior giving way to the soft, oozing interior is only the beginning. The texture combo is bested by the contrasting spicy jalapeno and cooling cream cheese.
Baked Jalapeno Poppers
I like my poppers really hot, so I add cayenne pepper to the mixture. If you happen to get peppers that are abnormally hot, or if you don’t want the extra heat, leave out the cayenne.
6 large jalapenos
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp cumin
2 cloves of garlic, smashed/minced (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
2 ounces Cheddar Jack cheese, shredded (Cheddar, or anything else will do)
4 ounces cream cheese
2 rashers of bacon
(optional) 1 1/2 tablespoons caramelized onions
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup AP flour
1 cup breadcrumbs (I use panko)
- Optional: Place the whole jalapeno peppers on a cooling rack set into a sheet pan and bake in a 400F oven for 20 minutes, or until they just start to brown.
- Place the two rashers of bacon on a paper towel lined plate and cover with another paper towel. Microwave on high for one minute, and check. Continue microwaving for 30-60 seconds until the bacon is cooked. Mine finished in two minutes, but this can vary depending on the microwave and on the age and thickness of the bacon.(If pre-baking the peppers, do not start this step until you have removed them from the oven.)
- As the bacon cooks (and the peppers cool) combine the cream cheese, shredded cheddar cheese, cumin, and cayenne (and the optional onions) in a medium bowl.
- Dice the cooked, cooled bacon into small pieces and add to the cheese mixture.
- (If the jalapeno peppers were precooked, rub the skin with your fingers to remove as much as possible, leaving the stem intact.) Cut a slit lengthwise into each of the peppers and remove the seeds. Stuff each pepper with the cheese mixture.
- Lay out three bowls or sauces and place the flour in the first, the beaten egg in the second, and the breadcrumbs in the last. Dredge each pepper in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs. You can press the breadcrumbs into the pepper to help them stick. (This is much easier if you have pre-baked the peppers and removed the skins).
- (Optional: If you have an olive oil sprayer, spray the coated peppers with oil to help them brown in the oven.)
- Bake for 20-25 minutes at 400F until the bread starts to brown.
- Remove from the oven, allow to cool 3 minutes and serve. These are pretty good at room temperature too.