This year I planted a couple jalapeno pepper plants, and unlike other years, they are really producing. Not many of my local contacts cook with jalapenos, so I was left with needing a way to use the jalapenos. I discovered that I could make jalapeno poppers and a lot of people like them.
I have made over 100 poppers to date, and that means I have some proofs of what works, and can comment on my experiences. I want to take you through the whole exercise of making these tasty treat. You don’t need to grow your own pepper, you can buy the peppers and make the poppers as a contribution to a pot luck dinner, or for your own entertainment; they are sure to be liked by a majority of the people to whom you offer them.
There are many recipes on the web for Jalapeno peppers; this recipe hides the filling inside the pepper and then breads and deep fries the pepper. I have seen recipes that slice a side off the pepper, and others that do not deep fry the pepper. I have also heard of wrapping the pepper in bacon after it is stuffed, and BBQing the stuffed pepper. I decided I liked this basic recipe and have put my energy into making minor changes rather than trying totally different methods.
The first step is to open the peppers and remove the seeds and membranes. This is the part of the process where the most capsicum is present, and all the warning about not touching your eyes and such hold. In addition, I recommend using latex gloves; one day I did 50 peppers without using gloves, and several hours later I noticed my left hand feeling strange. (I hold the knife and spoon in the right hand and the pepper on which I am working in the left hand). I will go even further and warn you not to have your face over the sink if you are running the seeds and membranes down the garbage disposal; the fumes will really get to your eyes and throat.
Most of the websites I read say to cut a T shaped slit across the stem end of the pepper and down the side. I tried that, and I couldn’t get the sides of the pepper open far enough to do a good job of cleaning out the seeds and membranes. I discovered that I did a better cleaning job if I cut through both sides of the pepper from the stem to the end. Now the pepper “wings” can be opened far enough to see in and get the insides out. I use a grapefruit spoon- it has a serrated tip- to scrape the insides out.
Occasionally, a wing will break off the pepper; don’t let it bother you with this recipe. I have found that of the 10% of the peppers where a wing has broken off, I have never had a pepper fall apart in the deep fat fryer. The filling and the breading seems to be a good glue and holds the pepper together when you want it to stay. Even though the wing falls off while cleaning the pepper out, it sometimes falls off again up to the point that it gets breaded. So do not fear that you have lost one of your poppers; it will come out okay.
(An interesting side note is that peppers range in the heat they have, and we never know just how hot the pepper will be other than a general range based on type of pepper; a jalapeno is suppose to be one of the mildest of hot peppers, but even they are inconsistent. One blogger I was reading said that he feels that the heat of the pepper is related to the white striation on the skin of the pepper. Thus, in this photo, the near pepper would be hotter than the other pepper.)
Now that the pepper is open and cleaned, it is ready to fill. This is a simple filling but good; I have had no complaints about it. It consists of a mixture of 1/2 pound each of three ingredients- cheddar cheese, cream cheese and bacon. I use a dessert spoon and scrape the filling into the pepper cavity. Remember, I said that the filling acts somewhat like a glue to hold the wings together, so I start by being generous with the amount I put into the cavity, press the wings together and scrape the excess that pushes out off.
After filling the peppers, I refrigerate them overnight. I find it is a general rule that you want things cold when you go to cook them. The original recipe said to refrigerate for 15 minutes, so I would assume that is the minimum time, but as I said, I split the process into two days, and refrigerate overnight. In fact, when I start breading and frying the peppers, I only take about 6 out of the refrigerator at a time; this is the number that seem to fit nicely in my fryer, and as I monitor the temperature of the cooking oil, I found that it needs several minutes to come back to the cooking temperature after doing a batch from the refrigerator.
One of the steps of the process that I changed is the breading of the peppers. The process starts like most processes by putting flour on the pepper, dredging the pepper in egg, and then rolling it in the flavored crumbs. I discovered that at this point, a lot of the area of the pepper didn’t seem to have a crumb coating, and I had read somewhere that the coating was better if repeated. So I put the peppers back into the egg and then back into the flavored crumbs. This really does make a big difference in the looks of the final popper.
- Jalapeno Peppers (24-40: the original recipe said 24 but I’ve had enough filling for 40)
- 8 oz cream cheese softened
- 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
- 8 oz cooked bacon, crumbled
- about 2 cups cooking oil
- 1/2 cup flour
- 3-5 eggs, beaten
- 40-60 RITZ cracker, finely crushed.
The looseness in the specification of the eggs and crackers is because of the looseness in the specification of the number of peppers. The original recipe was for 24 peppers, 2 eggs and 40 crackers, but only egged and crumbed the peppers once; when I started doing the egging and crumbing twice, I needed more ingredients, and of course, you need more egg and cracker crumb as you do more than 24 peppers, too. I would suggest starting with 3 eggs and 40 crackers, but be ready to add more egg and more crackers.
Cut the peppers lengthwise and remove the seeds and membranes.
Combine the cheeses and the bacon for the filling.
Spoon the filling into the pepper cavity and press the sides of the pepper together.
Refrigerate the filled peppers for at least 15 minutes.
Heat a couple inches of cooking oil in a medium saucepan or a deep fat fryer to 375 degrees F.
Coat the peppers with flour, knocking off the excess.
Coat the floured peppers with egg.
Roll the egged pepper in the cracker crumbs.
Again, coat the pepper with egg, and roll it in the cracker crumbs a second time.
When the temperature is close to the 375 degrees, add a batch (6) of coated peppers and cook for 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve. Let the temperature of the cooking oil recover before adding more peppers.