Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Fried Jalapeno Poppers

Fresh jalapeno peppers are blanched then stuffed with a bacon and cream cheese, cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack blend, dipped in buttermilk, rolled in flour and deep fried.
Fresh jalapeno peppers are blanched then stuffed with a bacon and cream cheese, cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack blend, dipped in buttermilk, rolled in flour & deep fried. Yum!

Fried Jalapeno Poppers

We just don't do a lot of Tex-Mex recipes here along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and I'd venture to guess that most folks who live in my area probably buy their poppers from the freezer section at the grocery store! They are not the same as homemade folks, so I decided to make my own homemade version that I have come to love.

They are a bit time-consuming to prep but heads above better than those ones you find in the freezer section of your store. There just is no comparison, so next time you want to make a platter of appetizers I hope you give these a try. And, you can prepare them and then flash freeze them, so that the next time you need some, they'll be right in your freezer, ready to fry. That, is exactly what I did! Just prepare them all the way up to get them ready to fry, spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray, set them on it, stick the whole thing in the freezer and then once they are frozen solid, pop 'em in a zipper freezer bag.

Now, first things first. If you try to take raw jalapeno peppers that you have bought from the grocery store and bread them, guess what? Your breading isn't gonna stick.

Store-bought jalapenos invariably have a waxy coating on them to keep them fresh and shiny and appealing to your eye. This will affect the ability of the coating to stick if you try to bread them raw. In my recipe, I boil the jalapenos first which both removes the coating and softens them, so you don't have to fry them so long.

I also use buttermilk, which is much thicker and gives the crumb something to cling to. Regular milk and especially a thinner lower fat milk won't work. If you don't have buttermilk, you'd be better off trying an egg wash and double coating with crumb. If you don't want to boil the peppers first, you can scrub them with a vegetable brush, but the fried pepper won't be as tender either.

So with my recipe, you 1) parboil the peppers, 2) stuff them 3) dip in buttermilk 4) dip in flour 5) dip in buttermilk again, 6) dip in breadcrumbs, then 7) fry!

These would be fantastic to prepare in advance and freeze, to have on hand to fry as an appetizer for any party, gathering, or cookout, so that you'll have a great appetizer to tame the wild beasts while the rest of the food cooks on the grill. I highly recommend that you break out the deep fryer for these too because they fry up real quick, stay nice and crunchy and are not at all greasy. Here's how to make them!

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Recipe: Fried Jalapeno Poppers

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 15 min

Total time: 30 min
Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 1 pound of fresh jalapeno peppers
  • 1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup of shredded Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese
  • 5 slices of bacon, fried crisp and chopped fine
  • Buttermilk, enough to fully dredge a pepper
  • 1 cup of self-rising flour
  • 2 cups of plain dry or panko bread crumbs
  • Canola oil for deep frying

Line a large baking sheet with paper towels; set aside. Put on a medium sized pot of water to boil. Meanwhile, slice the jalapenos in half lengthwise, removing all of the seeds and cutting out the ribs. Rinse. When water begins to boil, add the jalapenos, return to a boil, stir and boil for just a minute or two. Drain, fill pot with fresh cold water and ice cubes and immediately plunge the peppers into the ice bath to cease the cooking process. Remove the peppers and place onto the prepared baking sheet to dry.

Using a fork, whip together the cream cheese, cheeses and cooked, chopped bacon until well blended. Using a small spoon, fill the large end of the pepper with a rounded spoonful of the cream cheese mixture, and spread out to the narrow end, pressing into the pepper. Set aside on the prepared pan and continue until all of the peppers have been stuffed.

Pour enough buttermilk into a small bowl to cover the pepper when you dip it in, and dump the flour into another bowl. Using one hand for the wet and one hand for the dry, dip the stuffed peppers into the buttermilk and then using the other hand, dredge the pepper in the flour mixture and roll so that the entire pepper is well coated. Set on the baking sheet until you have dredged all of the peppers.

Preheat the deep fryer to 375 degrees F. Place the plain bread crumbs into a small bowl and using the same wet hand, dry hand method, dip the floured peppers back into the buttermilk and then into the bread crumbs, rolling to coat well. Set on the baking sheet until you have dredged all of the peppers.

Place the peppers into the fry basket with the stuffed side up and fry for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Variation: Substitute homemade pimento cheese for half of the cream cheese.

Tip: Use kitchen gloves before you start to clean the peppers. You will not regret this decision, because no matter how much you scrub your hands afterward, I guarantee they will retain the sting from these peppers & I'm 99% sure you will touch your nose or rub your eye at some point.

Cook's Notes: Jalapenos are pretty much mild in comparison to most peppers, but they can also have varying levels of heat - I've had batches where even completely cleaned, some burned my mouth, but others were very mild, so I always remove the seeds and ribs. You can make these poppers much hotter by leaving the ribs attached when you clean them since that is where much of the heat is, and also by mixing some of the seeds, red pepper flakes, or cayenne pepper into the cream cheese mixture. Since jalapenos can be unpredictable in their heat levels, I prefer to add to the filling, rather than leave the ribs and seeds in. Make these kid-friendly by using the mini sweet peppers instead of jalapeno peppers.

To Bake: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F, stuff and bake on a baking sheet for about 20 minutes, or until hot and bubbly and nicely browned.

To Air Fry: Brands and wattage of air fryers differ. Be sure to keep an eye on the food the first time that you cook a recipe and adjust as needed. Preheat air fryer for 2 minutes at 400 degrees F. Prepare as above. Spray poppers generously with oil (I recommend the EVO sprayer) and bake for 7 to 8 minutes, turning halfway. May also prep the peppers in the air fryer. Toss whole peppers with oil and cook for 4 minutes at 400 degrees F, shaking basket or rearranging trays halfway through. Let cool before stuffing.


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Posted by on July 1, 2009
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