Many people have had these before, whether the frozen boxed kind or the appetizer in a restaurant kind. And they are always at least decent, some have a little more kick than others, but I’ve never had any that really stood out and made me crave them in the future. I probably would never have bothered trying to make them if our garden didn’t produce and plethora of them this summer. We’ve already frozen many, and are drying out many more, and then yesterday my brother and I picked 15 new jalapenos and at least 20 of the other 2 kinds of peppers as well. He has plans of making a chili oil with some, but that still left us with way too many. Poppers seemed like the only solution to our dilemma.
I had no idea how to make these, or what was in them besides jalapenos and cheese. I researched and picked two recipes to combine. I mostly used Emeril’s recipe and added some parts from a recipe I found on allrecipes.com. They’re pretty similar, but I liked that the all recipe one has bacon and bread crumbs.
We all know how important bacon is…mmm…the only reason why there are 3, instead of 2 like the recipe calls for is because I wanted a snacking piece. Mark took this appetizing picture for the site since he was in charge of cooking the bacon to perfection.
The Emeril one I chose over the allrecipe one mostly because the poppers are baked as opposed to being fried. I ignored adding Essence, which I guess is a spice mixture of his, but other than that I followed it with the minor additions of the allrecipe instructions. I added bacon, and I decided in order to have both extra flavor and extra crunch I would use both panko and Italian bread crumbs. It worked, of course, and they came out extraordinarily crunchy.
Look at them, all cut up and waiting
The only thing we discovered, and have yet to decide if it’s good or bad, is that fresh, homegrown jalapenos have way more heat than store bought ones. I’m usually quite adept at handling spiciness in food, and frequently use jalapenos from the store, but these were just killer. I tried some of the cream cheese mixture after I had been handling the peppers, and I used my fingers, tried it, declared it delicious, then preceded to race to the fridge to get some milk to sooth my burning tongue. It was epic.
Setting up the dredging station was simple, and necessary, and I really and truly hope that everyone everywhere sets everything up in a copacetic system before dredging anything. My brother stuffed the peppers, then dropped them in the flour. Hideous, I know.
I coated them in flour,
swooshed in the egg while making sure it completely covered it,
flipped it around in the bread crumbs,
then placed it on the baking sheet.
It worked quite well.
And then they baked. When they were close to being done, we check on them. Opening the oven gave us the enticing scent followed quickly by the burning sensation in our eyes (the jalapenos are just that spicy). We noticed that while they were oozing cheese, the tops did not look crunchy enough so we drizzled some olive oil on them and continued to cook them for a few more minutes. Success!!
Eating them was a challenge. Not because of the flavor, the flavor was amazing, but because of the heat. We both sat with our glasses of milk, and the milk container at the ready for refills, and then risked our lives and ate. Crunchy outside, gooey cheesy bacon flavored inside, then burning heat that makes you cough and chug milk. It was awesome. Sometimes the heat hit immediately, sometimes it was delayed. At one point I took a bite, looked at the popper and said “Oh, I should take a picture of the inside of this!” which was followed by a wave of the heat burning my tongue and me continuing as I coughed “After I drink milk!!!!!” That picture came out really weird and terrible so I’m not going to make you look at it. You’re welcome.
These were the best poppers I have ever had. I can honestly say I will crave them in the future, and now I know how very easy they are to make. Despite the heat, or because of it, these made for a pleasant eating experience. I just have to be sure I don’t touch my eyes at all for a little while. Also, this should leave you with a little extra filling. I recommend using it as a spread for crackers. It’s flavorful, but doesn’t have the heat of the peppers so it can be a soothing treat for anyone who is too wussy to try the real deal.
15 fresh jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise with seeds and membranes removed
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 (8 ounce) bag shredded cheddar cheese
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp cayenne
2 pieces of bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 Tbsp milk
¾ cup panko
¾ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
½ cup flour
Olive oil for drizzing
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
Mix together cream cheese, cheddar cheese, cumin, cayenne, and bacon. Microwave for a few seconds if the mixture is too hard to stir.
Beat together milk and eggs in a small bowl. Combine panko and bread crumbs in a shallow bowl. Put the flour in another bowl. Fill each jalapeno half with the cheese mixture. One at a time, dredge in flour, dip in egg mixture (make sure it is thoroughly coated), then dredge in the breadcrumb mixture. Place on baking sheet, cut side up, and repeat until all are finished.
Bake 25 minutes, take out and quickly drizzle with olive oil, then place back in oven for about another 5 minutes. The cheese should be melty and the crust golden.
My poppers with a much needed glass of milk. I think I drank about 3 cups of milk while eating 4-5 poppers.