"Drummond says she's caught her guests stuffing these little guys into their purses."
Jalapeño poppers have no redeeming nutritional value, no cult following (at least not one I am aware of), and aren't exactly the classiest of foods. But I love them, shamelessly. I have been known to make secret late-night pilgrimages to the Jack in the Box drive-thru solely to obtain these nasty little treats (with extra ranch dressing, of course). I'm even guilty of buying the frozen supermarket version in dire times.
So you can only imagine my joy when I found the first recipe in Ree Drummond's The Pioneer Woman Cooks was for BBQ Jalapeño Poppers. For years I'd been wanting to make them at home and now was my chance! And the best part, this recipe doesn't force you to choose between stuffing the poppers with either cream cheese or cheddar—it calls for both.
Armed with a bag of jalapeños, a pound of bacon, blocks of cheddar and cream cheese, I headed into the kitchen. Throwing caution to the wind, I halved and seeded my peppers without the protective aid of rubber gloves. Sure, my fingers tingled a bit, but I'll chalk it up to nervous excitement. I mixed the cheeses and scallions, stuffed the peppers and lovingly wrapped each one in bacon.
I'm not a big fan of store-bought barbecue sauce and decided to go with the only jam that happened to be in my fridge, Damson plum. Strange choice, I know, but it worked out pretty well.
I placed my swaddled peppers in the oven and let them bake for a little over an hour. The low-and-slow cooking meant that the peppers cooked through without becoming soggy, the cheeses heated evenly without oozing out of their shells, and the bacon was crisp and caramelized with a hint of sweetness from the jam.
I took them out of the oven and against my better judgment, popped a still-steaming and sizzling popper straight into my mouth. Did I burn my mouth? Of course. Was it totally worth it? Yes, there are no words to describe the deliciousness of these homemade jalapeño poppers. I ate an embarrassing amount of them at temperatures ranging from mouth-scorching to hot, warm, room temperature, and even downright cold.
Drummond says she's caught her guests stuffing these little guys into their purses and I can see why. There are few hors d'oeuvres that have the potential to turn regularly honest people into petty thieves.
- Yield:36 poppers
- 18 fresh jalapeños
- One 8-ounce package cream cheese
- 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 1 green onion, sliced
- 18 slices thin bacon, cut into halves
- Bottled barbecue sauce
- Rubber gloves (or plastic bags) for working with the jalapeños
Preheat oven to 275°F.
Begin by cutting the jalapeños in half lengthwise. Try to keep their stems intact. They look prettier that way.
With a spoon, scrape out the seeds and light-colored membranes. Remember: The heat comes from the seeds and membranes, so if you can handle the sizzle, leave some of them intact.
Now, in a bowl, combine the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and chopped green onion. Mix the ingredients together gently. And don't feel you have to use and electric mixer, I do because I'm lazy and don't like to exert myself. Ever. (Too much scrubbing clothes on the washboard, I suppose.)
Next, stuff each hollowed jalapeño half with the cheese mixture.
Wrap the bacon slices around each half, covering as much of the surface as you can. Be careful not to stretch the bacon too tightly around the jalapeño, as the bacon will contract as it cooks.
Brush the surface of the bacon with your favorite barbecue sauce. Chutney or apricot jelly works well, too!
Secure the jalapeños with toothpicks and pop them in the oven for 1 hour, or until the bacon is sizzling.
Serve hot or at room temperature, and watch them disappear within seconds. I've seriously caught guests stuffing these into their purses. Sometimes I have to call law enforcement.