Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Stuffed Jalapenos


If you're looking for a great snack for your next tailgate party or grilling event, you can't go wrong with stuffed jalapenos. The number of ingredients for stuffing them is endless, and though many recipes call for wrapping them in bacon before putting them on the grill, some people prefer to simply top them with prosciutto or serrano ham. Dipped in a batter and deep fried, stuffed jalapenos are often called "poppers". Below is a basic recipe, followed by some suggestions for alternate stuffings. You can even keep them meat/cheese free if you're a vegan. Be creative!

I generally use a couple dozen fresh jalapeno peppers to serve as appetizers for 4 hungry people, though you can use more or fewer depending on how many people you'll be serving and what other appetizers you serve. Note that they reheat very well in the microwave or a toaster oven, so if you have leftovers they won't stay left over very long! Oh, and they aren't necessarily as hot as you would think they are, but the chorizo in this recipe adds extra spiciness so do have some warm flour tortillas on hand to absorb the heat for sissies like me. Beware: These are addictive, because everything's better with bacon!

Without further ado, I give you

CHORIZO STUFFED JALAPENOS WRAPPED IN BACON:

Ingredients:
  • 24 Fresh Jalapeno Peppers
  • 1 lb. Fresh Mexican Chorizo, removed from casing (you can substitute pork sausage if chorizo isn't available)
  • 24 slices bacon
  • 1 tsp finely minced garlic
  • 8 oz. shredded Queso Fresco, Adobero cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, or other white cheese
  • 8 oz. Cream cheese, softened
  • 1 Tbs. oil

Directions:

Cut a slit in each jalapeno, starting near the crown and ending near the tip, and gently squeeze open like a pocket to scoop out the seeds and membranes. A small spoon works well for this. The more seeds and membranes you remove, the less hot the final product will be.

In a frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat and saute the onions till soft. Add the garlic and chorizo, and crumble the sausage with the back of a wooden spoon as it cooks. You want it to be as crumbly as possible, to fit properly into the peppers. Stir fry for about 8 minutes till the sausage is cooked through. Transfer the mixture to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Cool until easy to handle.

Mix together the Queso Fresco or other white Mexican Cheese and softened cream cheese. Set aside.

Using your fingers or a small spoon, stuff the peppers half full of the cheese mixture, pressing it along the bottom and sides of the peppers to form a little pocket.

Stuff the chorizo mixture into the cheese pocket, pressing it down to get as much as possible inside each pepper.

Using a toothpick, secure one end of a bacon slice to one end of the pepper. Wrap the pepper around the pepper to the opposite end, and secure the other end with another toothpick. (smaller peppers may only require 1/2 slice; use your own judgment).

Continue until all peppers are wrapped, then set aside in the refrigerator until you are ready to grill them.

Preheat grill to medium hot heat. Grill peppers for 8-10 minutes, turning every 2 minutes so the bacon is evenly browned and the peppers thoroughly roasted. Remove to a serving platter, let cool just a bit, take out the toothpicks and serve peppers warm with plenty of paper napkins and a cold beer.

Now for some suggestions for alternate fillings:

1) Follow the above recipe but replace the chorizo mixture with crab meat.

2) Instead of the chorizo and cheese mixture, use 24 small shrimp, shelled, and softened cream cheese. Put the cream cheese in the peppers first, filling about half way, then add one small shrimp on top, wrap with bacon and grill them.

3) 3) Stuff with a raw oyster (cheese optional), wrap in bacon and grill.

4) Stuff with cream cheese, top with prosciutto or serrano ham and bake or grill.

5) Use a mixture of chopped dates mixed with cream cheese and finely minced garlic to stuff the peppers, wrap in thick-sliced hickory smoked bacon and grill till crispy. This is surprisingly good!

6) Use a large jar of drained, pickled peppers instead of raw peppers. Drain the peppers on a paper towel, cut a slit in one side and remove seeds, rinse and pat dry. Combine 1 pkg cream cheese (8 oz); 1 (5-6 oz) can tuna in water (drained); Worcestershire sauce; garlic powder; Cajun seasonings; paprika. Stuff the peppers with the cheese mixture, refrigerate, and serve cold.

Use your imagination to come up with your own concoction. I've even heard that pickled peppers stuffed with peanut butter and then refrigerated is a tasty dish-- but I'm not sure I'll ever try it. ;)

Buen provecho!

If you have a favorite recipe for a Mexican or Mexican-inspired dish, I'd love to add it to our recipe box! email lahuerita2@gmail.com (and put "recipe" in the subject box so I'll know what it's about)