Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Recipe: Jalapeno Poppers

This weekend was a nice, lazy weekend. Sometimes you just need a weekend of binging on Netflix and comfort food.

When we lived in California, it seemed like Jalapeno Poppers (or Jollies as my Husband calls them) were a weekend staple with wine and friends. Entertaining weekends and "Comfy Weekends" aren't quite the same thing. But when you are eating the same food you would serve for both occasions, it can take you to a nostalgic place.

At this point in our lives we are still establishing those kind of connections here, so as you can imagine, it's usually just us. In comfy pants. And lots of ice-cream and wine. But I digress.

On a good note that translates to MORE JALAPENO POPPERS FOR ME!

So I decided to post a step-by-step guide to how I make Jalapeno Poppers. I do have some variations, which I mention at the end of the post, but all are equally delicious.

5-6 large (4-5 inch) Jalapenos
1 block of cream cheese 
1 clove of garlic
1 pack of thin sliced bacon (thick is okay, just a longer cooking time)
1 cup of shredded cheese
10 mushrooms, diced
Olive Oil
pepper to taste
kosher salt to taste
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp tumeric

I have my trusty Santoku knife, but my favorite kitchen hardware for the removing seeds and veins of jalapenos is a melon baller.
I typically line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and let the poppers cook on top of a cooling rack. It helps the little guys cook, and helps with clean-up.

Let's get started!

Turn a pan on medium heat on the stove.

Mince your garlic.

Dice up your mushrooms.

Once the pan is warm, add olive oil. When the oil is heated, add the mushrooms and garlic. Enjoy the sizzle. Stir. Add a pinch of kosher salt. Let it cook until the mushrooms are brown, and have reduced in size.

Start halving your jalapenos, and taking out the seeds and veins (unless you want these puppies hot! then leave them).

When the mushrooms have cooked, remove from heat.

Add cream cheese to a bowl, add the mushrooms (which will incorporate easier as they are warm).  Add the paprika, turmeric, and pepper. Mix until combined. Add shredded cheese.

Start filling up your poppers, and I mean LOAD 'EM UP!

Then when they are all full, wrap with bacon! Note: if you have big jalapeno poppers, the will easily use 1 piece of bacon a piece. If they are smaller, or if you dare to use Serrano Chilies, well, use a kitchen scissors to cut the bacon strips in half before wrapping for Maximum Bacon Usage.

I baked these guys up for 30 minutes at 390 degrees.  I rotated the baking sheet once, halfway through the cooking time.

These turned out to be cheesy, crispy, savory perfection. Paired with a couple of Yuenglings, who wouldn't be content?

Lets talk about alternative fillings. Are you not a fan of mushrooms? That's okay. I think artichoke hearts, minced up and seared in olive oil, would be just as fabulous (and add a little bit of a buttery texture. Yummo!) Or even artichoke hearts and chopped spinach! If that is too fancy, try simply caramelizing some shallots and garlic.  I think the "extra fillings" add a little extra something special. You can add whatever spices you want too. Just be careful with Cayenne ad Chili powder. I added them one, and it made pretty fire-y poppers. They were almost too painful.

Looking for something lighter than bacon but with some crunch?

Typically, I usually skip the bacon and just coat the top of the popper with Panko Bread Crumbs - for that crunch without the fat of a deep fryer. When we do have bacon in the house - all bets are off though. It usually is devoured pretttttty quickly.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this step by step how-to for Jalapeno Poppers. It's not too labor intensive, and it's so worth it in the went.

And you don't need to pair these with just beer; White Wine (Viognier and Pinot Gris) or Red Wines (Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Zin, Barbera, Sangiovese) pair excellently. I know. Because I drank just about everything with them.


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