To Reach Jalapeño Popper Perfection, Add Pulled Pork and Bacon

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The porkiest popper you'll ever pop. Morgan Eisenberg

If you want to be guaranteed a spot on the invite list for every party for the rest of your life, I have a trick for you: Learn to make these pork-stuffed, bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers. I speak from experience. I made them for the first time a few months ago for a group of my boyfriend's friends. Ever since, I've noticed an increase in the number of invitations I've been getting to all of their shindigs. If any of you are reading this, know that I'm on to you guys.

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The concept may seem simple, or even obvious, but the combination of flavors and textures is so much more than you'd expect. Even raspberry sauce skeptics shovel these down after taking their first bite. I got the idea from a sports bar chain called Recovery—admittedly, not a culinary destination, but it introduced me to these jalapeño poppers, and for that (and reasonably-priced beer), I will forever be grateful.

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The first step I took when replicating these at home was to figure out how to make the raspberry sauce. I typically prepare it like Thanksgiving cranberry sauce—lots of sugar to cut the tartness. But in this case, I needed a more tart, less sweet sauce, along the lines of a vinegary barbecue sauce to cut the richness of the pulled pork. To get there, I cut the sugar and added cider vinegar for tang. A little chipotle chili powder adds some smokiness that works really well.

For the pulled pork, you can either make your own, if you have the time and inclination, or you can buy it pre-made. There's enough big flavor in these poppers that you won't notice if it's not barbecue championship-level pulled pork.

For the cheese, I mostly use cream cheese, which fills in any spaces between pork shreds, and also some shredded cheddar cheese for a little extra flavor and sharpness.

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Instead of stuffing and frying the jalapeños as you would for classic jalapeño poppers, I cut them in half to create boats and bake them. It's easier, and I find that the breading is unnecessary when you use strips of bacon to hold in the cheesy pork mixture. Another bonus of baking is that the extra time in the oven gives the peppers a smokier, slightly sweeter flavor.

Some people like to hold the bacon in place with toothpicks, but I find it unnecessary. The bacon shrinks as it bakes, tightening around the pepper so that it won't slip off.

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But you do have to worry about losing any semblance of self-control once these babies come out of the oven.

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