I'll share a little secret with you. If you live in an area that is suffering from extreme drought like we are here in California, you might not want to plant jalapeños. They say peppers love heat and that's no lie. My jalapeños are very hot this year. I cannot remember ever eating a jalapeño with the Scoville units in the stratosphere until I tasted the peppers from my little plant. To clean the peppers I wear disposable gloves and tie a dish towel around my head to cover my nose and mouth. Even so, I cough violently once the first pepper is cut until the air clears about an hour after the last. Does all that stop me from eating them? Nooooo.......
I have always loved to order jalapeño poppers whenever they are on the menu. The infirmities of age and indigestion have slowed me down these days. But, the sight of a dozen big, green jalapeño peppers shimmering in the morning sun caused me to throw caution to the wind today. I picked the peppers and set about making jalapeño poppers for lunch with homemade ranch dressing and that little purple pill!
The shiny green hellions were stuffed with cheese, dipped in buttermilk, dredged in Panko bread crumbs, wrapped in bacon, then deep-fried. Despite the heat, they were delicious. I cooked three and froze the rest for another day, maybe this winter if our heater goes out again. These will warm us up from the inside out.
Jalapeño Poppers with Bacon
- 12 Jalapeño peppers
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened
- ½ cup cheddar cheese shredded
- ½ cup Monterey Jack cheese shredded
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2-3 dashes hot sauce
- 2 TBS cilantro finely chopped
- 2 TBS green onion finely chopped
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 egg slightly beaten
- 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 slices bacon not thick sliced
- Oil for deep-frying
- Ranch dressing for Thai chili sauce for dipping
- Before you handle the peppers, put on disposable gloves. If you start coughing, tie a dish cloth around your head, covering your nose and mouth. You should still be able to breathe through it!
- Wash the peppers in cold water. Cut the tops off about a half-inch down from the stem, leaving the stem intact. Use an apple corer or paring knife to remove the seeds and membranes from the pepper. Rinse the inside of the pepper to remove any remaining seeds. Save the tops after gently removing any seeds and membrane. Continue until you have prepared all the peppers. Allow the peppers to dry on paper towels while you prepare the filling.
- Add the cheese, salt, pepper, hot sauce, cilantro, and green onion to a medium bowl and mix week. Set aside. Pour the buttermilk into a small, deep bowl. Add the beaten egg and mix well. Mix the flour and bread crumbs and place in a shallow dish. But the bacon slices in half lengthwise, then cut each of those pieces in half. You should end up with 12 small slices of bacon that will fit around the middle of the peppers.
- Fill the hollowed out peppers with the cheese mixture. You can use a piping bag, a plastic bag with the corner cut off, or just a small spoon or butter knife. You may not use all the cheese mixture depending on the size of the peppers. Save it for cheese toast!
- Once the peppers are filled with cheese, add a little dollop of the cheese mixture to the inside pepper tops with the stems. Match them up in size to the peppers as close as you can and put them back on the peppers. The cheese will act as a glue. Insert a toothpick through the pepper top, down and out the side of the pepper to hold the top on while it fries. One at a time coat each pepper in the buttermilk egg mixture, then the brad crumbs, back into the egg mixture and one last time in the bread crumbs. Lay them gently on paper towels while you finish the rest of the peppers. Take a piece of bacon and wrap it around the center of each pepper being careful not to disturb the acting. Stick a toothpick through the side to hold the bacon in place while frying. They toothpicks come right out after frying but you really need them to keep the whole thing together until the oil does its magic.
- Heat oil in a tall sided heavy pan over medium high heat. The oil should come up at least 2 inches on the side of the pan. You want the peppers to be covered in oil.
- When the oil reaches 325 degrees on a candy thermometer add the jalapeño poppers to the oil with a slotted spoon. Fry no more than three at a time to avoid dropping the oil temperature. Watch them centrally and remove from the oil to drain on paper towels when the bacon is crispy and the coating a light golden brown. Do not over cook them! When they cool slightly, remove the toothpicks and serve with your choice of dipping sauce.
This recipe would probably work well with whole pickled or canned jalapeños. I love the crunch of the fresh jalapeño but would have preferred a little less heat. Michael agreed to try one. He started with a small bite and declared them tasty with a little sweetness. He asked for another bite but this one sent him running to the kitchen for water, whining like a baby. 🙂 I think I'll have to eat the rest of them myself.