How could I do this to myself? I just finished a day of frying and dove right back in with these Weapons of Internal Gastronomic Destruction!
These peppers were like crispy little torpedoes of fire filled with a creamy, cheese goodness. It all started with a trip to the Farmer’s Market. It was hot and I was ready for my first trip to the market this year. With bag in tow, I was ready to hit the stalls. My haul was great. In addition to fruits and vegetables, I came home with a couple of baguettes, a container of yogurt and one of feta cheese. All the makings of great meals this week, but as soon as I unpacked my bags and felt the peppers again I decided they weren’t going to find their way into canning jars as Hot Red Pepper Jelly. I had a sudden craving for Jalapeño Poppers.
I’m not sure how it hit exactly, but since I knew I had a full week of work, consisting of 6 laborious days in a row I figured standing over hot pots stirring up jars of jelly and processing them wasn’t going to happen and a pot of exhaustion is going to be more my style this week. So before work I headed into the kitchen to whip up a batch of fiery peppers with a simple filling.
I mixed 1/2 a package of cream cheese with 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro and 1/2 cup of cheese — I used a package of Four Mexican Cheese Blend with Cheddar, Monterrey Jack, Aserdo and Queso Quesadilla. Give it a whirl in a food processor and set aside while you prep the peppers.
Pay careful attention here, you’ve got a choice to make:
- Use gloves to protect your fingers and other body parts from the flame that you become one with if the hot oils of these peppers hit your skin
- Throw caution to the wind and be prepared for what could potentially be an extremely uncomfortable outcome — remember, NOTHING you touch with fire-hot pepper fingers is immune to the heat — that’s ALL body parts, people!
I hate gloves. I hate feeling encumbered by plastic or latex wrappers around my fingers. I want to feel the food, the knife, the cutting surface fully. First of all I love playing with food and secondly, being able to feel the shapes and textures is too important for me to give up — that is, when I’m only processing 6 peppers. I learned long ago when catering a large party and dicing up pounds of jalapeños with my bare hands that gloves are a necessity. I found out when I got home from the job and not only were my fingers on fire, but I made the cruel mistake of rubbing my eyes at about 1 in the morning. I don’t think there are words for the pain. But let’s not dwel on the stupidity of the past, it’s back to these Weapons of Internal Gastronomic Destruction.
I’ve got this cool little pepper coring tool you can see above. It does amazing work. Ok, yeah, right, it doesn’t do the work, you do the work with the ease of this tool that fits PERFECTLY into a jalapeño. Yes, it is a unitasker, it’s only job is to take the ribs and seeds out of a small pepper, but if you want to get at it without cutting it open or the dexterity and and skill of someone that’s had years of prep experience with a small, narrow knife, then this $9.00 tool is a must-have. It’ s easy to use and I’ve never had a problem getting to the bottom of the pepper. Of course you have to have peppers that fit the diameter of the tool and cute curved peppers are not going to work. A straight tool on a curved vegetable are just not compatible.
And once again, for old times sakes … My employer, Williams-Sonoma did not ask me to pimp this tool and I won’t be getting paid to do so either. I write about the tools I use and well, I’ve been a W-S customer for more years than I can count, and many more than I’ve been an employee and almost every single kitchen appliance other than the big ones — the stove, fridge, and the dishwasher — are from W-S so when I talk about what I’m using, I need to disclose. Anyway, yes, you can make these poppers without a tool and with gloves, but I LOVE this thing. See how cleanly the core comes out, seeds and ribs all in one heat-seeking missile that needs to be thrown straight into the trash? Do not, I repeat, do not put the cores down the disposal, unless you feel like having the sensation that something wrong is happening to your respiratory system and you like the feeling of your eyes burning and a sudden coughing attack.
Um…yes, I’ve had the experience — ‘nough said.
Once the peppers are cored, saving the caps, using a small spoon or your fingers, stuff them with the cheese mixture. You don’t need to pack the stuffing in too tightly, it’s best to leave a little at the top to act as the “glue” to hold the cap in place. In a bowl, mix 1 cup of flour with 1 1/4 cups of warm water and stir until well combined. Pour bread crumbs in another bowl. I used plain and unless you want Italian Jalapeño Poppers, I recommend you do as well.
Now, this is where you need to be careful — the cap is not held very securely and you want to make sure it stays on top. Don’t grab a stuffed pepper by the stem. Carefully pick it up, and gingerly roll in the flour/water mixture and then into the bread crumbs. Put on a plate without stacking while you wait for the oil to heat up to approximately 360º. When hot, carefully drop into the oil and fry until golden brown. Remove to a rack or dish lined with paper towels to drain and serve hot.
WARNING … peppers vary in heat. My first bite was like a ball of fire, the pepper I’d chosen to eat first was like swallowing an incendiary device that would surely blow up either then or later. One way or the other the heat of that pepper was going to tell me who was boss and I don’t like that kind of attitude. So when they cooled down I packed them up and took them to work to share in the joy and pain of these little cheese-filled, fire-laced torpedoes. Everyone that was brave enough to give it a try had an opinion and an experience to share. One thought her first pepper was mild and that maybe I don’t have the spice chops necessary for living a life of good, spicy food. She’d convinced me I was a wimp. But while I was attempting to get through my 2nd pepper, her 2nd attempt caused a little distress and I remembered a container of milk in in the fridge in the kitchen. It came to our rescue! I poured a cup for each of us and it helped. Why, you ask? Well, rather than having me attempt to explain, let’s see what Yahoo Answsers has to say about why milk helps cool down spicy foods. I warned everyone that if they wanted to partake in the pepper party they should know that it might well be a painful experience. Everyone said it was, but that they loved the peppers nonetheless. So, go ahead, give it a try. I’m not sure that the red are any hotter than the green, but if you’re scared of the red, pick up a handful of ordinary green jalapeños and give it a try. I usually buy red because I use them in many other dishes and they help perk it up with heat and color.
Do you like spicy food? Do you make Jalapeño Poppers? And who the heck came up with that name? Shouldn’t it be more like Jalapeño BOOM’ers? Pop is too benign for these treats.
In 2007 my career with a large, but shrinking high tech Fortune 50 \"left me,\" leaving a void in my life. While lamenting the loss and flying around the world looking for a new career to get married to, I discovered a way to use a familiar outlet during tough times -- writing. My blog-writing morphed into writing about my favorite past time -- Food! I purchase food, sell food, make food, watch food being made, broadcast meal preparation, photograph and blog about food. Like I said; Food! To change this standard text, you have to enter some information about your self in the Dashboard -> Users -> Your Profile box.