I have a fond memory of Jalapeno Poppers. They were my Daddy and I’s bad food indulgence when I was growing up. We would fry up an entire package of those delicious frozen breaded jalapeno and cream cheese morsels and watch reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Or if it was Friday night he forced me to watch all those crappy SyFy shows with the painfully bad CGI. Anyway, while the frozen jalapeno poppers are good, we would always douse them in hot sauce because they were never hot enough. So today I thought, in celebration of a Superbowl I could not care less about and did not even realize was happening until last night, why not make one of my Daddy’s favorite treats my own way.
Unlike the traditional Jalapeno Popper, I’m using panko because it makes me feel fancy. Which is weird I know, it’s bread crumbs. I don’t question the things that make me feel fancy I just indulge in them.
4 oz cream cheese (I use neufchatel just because I like it)
1 cup panko or bread crumbs
2 oz cheddar cheese
2 slices bacon (I use turkey)
1/2 cup flour
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic
Make your bacon. We’re adding bacon to this because why the hell not. Place on a napkin to dry then chop into bits.
Clean and dry your jalapenos. It would benefit you to get ones that were more uniform in size but I swear to you, out of a bucket of 100 or so jalapenos at the market these 12 were the only usable ones. I HATE YOU C-TOWN. Why am I shopping at C-Town? Because it was 8:00 pm and 25° outside.
Broil your jalapenos just until they become slightly fragrant and the skin begins to pucker. This is to ensure we don’t have any raw jalapeno poppers. Leave them alone to cool.
Make your cream cheese stuffing by adding your cheddar cheese, milk, and bacon. If you’re a bad ass you could add hot sauce here. I happen to be a bad ass…Justin is not, so I forewent the hot sauce.
Set up your dredging station. Yeah my dredging station is a little tight, hence the title of the blog. Add your 1 tsp of salt, garlic, and cayenne (or whatever spices you’re feeling) to your panko.
Preheat your oven to 350°
Once your jalapenos are cool enough to handle slice down one of the sides making sure not to go all the way through. And guess what? We’re not going to scoop out the seeds or membranes. No, you put that spoon down because we’re eating Jalapeno Poppers and last time I checked jalapenos were supposed to be spicy. People who say they like spicy food and brag about how much of it they can handle then go around and de-seed a jalapeno before they turn it into a popper are like people who boast about their alcohol tolerance while guzzling down a Bud Light. One of you is eating a sad pepper that is now a shell of its former self and the other is drinking piss water and I don’t enjoy either of you.
By not seeding your jalapenos you also avoid all the complaints people seem to have about burning their fingers or eyeballs or whatever. I’ve never really had that problem.
Side story: an early memory I have of my father is me sitting in the kitchen watching him prepare dinner. He was talking to me about something I can no longer remember and cutting jalapenos. In the middle of cutting the jalapenos he interrupts himself and says to me, “Remind me not to touch my penis for awhile.”
Sound advice. I still use it to this day. Just instead of a penis, it’s my vagina. Why was I telling that story? Oh right. They’re jalapenos…they’re hot. Just stop fiddling with your face or your hoo ha or whatever it is you people seem to be doing right after you cut a jalapeno and you’ll be fine. Or I don’t know, live dangerously and give yourself a paper cut and just go to town on a batch of jalapenos. Sometimes the pain makes you feel alive.
Now you’ve turned your jalapeno into a coin purse of sorts. So hold it by the ends and push towards the middle. The pepper should open up enough to scoop some of the cheese mixture in. If it doesn’t, take a clean spoon and gently open the pepper up a little more.
Stuff those peppers as much as you can, flattening out the opening.
And don’t cut off the those stems. Nature gave you a pretty convenient handle, seems like it would be a smack in its face to cut it off.
Get ready to dredge. Flour-egg-panko. If you want it wicked breaded do flour-egg-flour-egg-panko. My rule for dredging is this: “Right is dry, Left is wet.” That means you’re going to only use your right hand for the dry ingredients and your left hand for the wet. Doing this keeps your dredging materials from getting cross contaminated and prevents the dreaded club hand.
Drop your jalapeno into your flour with your right hand and coat.
Pick up the jalapeno with your right hand and drop it in your egg.
Switch to your left hand and move the egg around the jalapeno.
Pick up the jalapeno with your left hand and drop it in the panko.
Switch back to your right hand and pat the panko around the jalapeno.
I thought I explained this clearly enough but as you can see I did not since Justin is using the wrong hand. This resulted in us getting in a little tiff because I hadn’t had my coffee yet and as I said already, I clearly explained it. He left and pouted yelling, “I’m not good in the kitchen! I’ve never dredged anything before!” I pissily replied, “It’s not like anyone ever taught me!” Don’t worry, we made up two seconds later.
Damnit Justin, “Left is Wet.”
There’s no picture of the panko coating because that’s when the fight ensued.
Bake in 350° for 25-30 minutes until golden brown if your cheese is bursting out turn down your oven to 300° or so. You can absolutely fry these. I just hate dealing with all that oil, so I consider baking easier.
Allow them to cool for however long you can stand it.
Yup, those didn’t last long.