Stuffed Jalapenos

A couple weeks ago, the foodies over at Huffington Post put together a photo-slide show called “2012: The Year in Bacon.” Intriguing as it was, I was a little disappointed they neglected to mention some of the better uses of bacon: wrapping foods. Food Network, on the other hand, did a whole feature on bacon’s snuggling power, but they too fell short in my opinion. No one brought up the amazing culinary delight that results when you combine bacon with jalapenos. So, to amend the situation, I’m stepping up to the plate.

I was first introduced to bacon and jalapenos a couple years ago when we visited some friends on their south Texas ranch. They served up bacon-wrapped stuffed jalapenos grilled in their out-door kitchen. The recipe they gave me was simple: “just mix up some cheese an’ stuff, shove it in a pepper, wrap it in bacon and grill ’em.”  Simple, eh? I’ve been experimenting ever since.

But before I get into any recipes, let’s lay down some ground rules. If you’re making these, you probably already know that jalapenos can be hot — not as hot habaneros or other varieties, but still hot enough to hurt. Be careful when handling them and consider wearing rubber gloves while you cut and de-seed the peppers to keep the capsaicin (the stuff that gives the peppers their heat) off your skin and hence, out of your eyes or off of other sensitive areas.

Also, If you want to lessen the heat impact, there are a few things you can do. You’ll note that the following directions call for cutting open and scraping out the seeds of the peppers. The seeds are the hottest part of the pepper so if you decide to throw some or all of them away instead of putting them in the stuffing mix, the finished product will have that jalapeno taste with only a little bite. To dampen the heat even more, once you have removed the seeds and thrown them away, you can soak the pepper cores in milk over night and that will pretty much neutralize any remaining fire.

Now then, here are the how-to’s:

Stuffed Jalapenos – Basic Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 8 – 10 jalapenos
  • 1 package cream cheese
  • 2 scallions
  • Pinch each of garlic powder and salt (or a larger pinch of garlic salt)
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked and chopped

Directions:

Pre-heat a grill or broiler.

Cut the jalapenos length-wise and scrape out the pulp and seeds (discard all if you want, keep the seeds to control the heat level).pepper 1.

Mix together the cream cheese, scallions, garlic/salt stuff and bacon. It will work itself into a mushy ball.pepper 2Fill the peppers with the mixture, place on a broiler pan or grate of a grill and cook until the cheese melts.

The last time I made these, I used some peppers with the full heat (all the seeds and unsoaked) and I used some that had no seeds in the mix and that I’d soaked overnight in milk. To keep them separate, I put them on opposite sides of the plate and alerted everyone that the “hot ones are on the left.”

pepper 3

Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Jalapenos

Ingredients:

  • 8 – 10 jalapenos
  • 3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 scallion
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs
  • 8 – 10 slices bacon, partially cooked, sliced width-wise.

Directions:

Pre-heat broiler or grill.

Slice and de-seed as above.

Mix cheese, scallions and breadcrumbs together and fill jalapenos. Wrap the bacon around the pepper and secure with a toothpick (if you soak the toothpicks in water, that will prevent them from burning during the cooking). Place on grill/under broiler and cook until cheese melts. The photo below shows how I made sure everyone knew which ones were the hot ones. Those wrapped were hot, those with the bacon lying on top were less-hot.pepper 4Obviously there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to making these. You can mix a little Worcestershire and crab meat into the peppers for something different, use a variety of cheeses or even add in a little re-fried beans. Experiment however you want because, really, you’re cooking with bacon and jalapenos! It’s hard to make those taste bad, right? (Hard to believe I was a vegetarian for 4 years, isn’t it?)

 

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