Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Jalapeno Poppers

As stated previously in this blog (I can't remember exactly when), one of the fun things about getting a weekly farmbox of produce is that you're not really sure what you're getting from one week to the next. Case in point - in our box a few weeks ago was a bag of 7 fresh jalapeno peppers (among other items). Now, I like jalapenos and even have a few recipes where I can use one or two (chili or salsa, for example), but 7 is a bit much. Not being culinary school-trained, the only applicable prep idea that my feeble mind could generate was jalapeno poppers. Not surprisingly, there are many, many recipes for poppers out there in a whole range of forms. I happened to choose one from a website called Jalapeno Cafe, in and of itself a treasure trove of recipes devoted to the humble jalapeno pepper (jalapeno ice cream? really?). Anyway, I chose this specific prep because 1) it's baked, not fried - having just deep-fried a whole chicken a few days earlier, I wasn't really in the mood for more egregious frying in the commissary and 2) it's pretty straightforward, at least on paper.

On cooking day, I bought 3 more peppers, giving me a total of 10 for the recipe (as directed). I sliced them in half and removed the seeds/membranes - this actually was the hardest part as it was a little time-consuming and (as I soon discovered) ultimately really hard on the hands. The funny thing about repeatedly dousing your fingers in spicy pepper juice is that it starts to sting after a little while and continues to do so intermittently for the next 12-18 hours, no matter how many times you wash them (I'm sure my kids thought me insane watching me shake my hands jazz-dancing style for the rest of the evening). Running them under cold water did bring relief, albeit temporary. Note to self: next time, wear gloves.

The popper filling was a mixture of crumbled bacon (real bacon, not the turkey stuff we often use here), cream cheese, Italian seasoning, and shredded cheddar. As my cream cheese wasn't soft enough to stir, I had to use my (tingling) hands to mix it up, but this proved to be a better technique anyway since I could shape/form the packets of filling by hand to better fit each jalapeno half. After that came dunking in flour, then egg, then dredging in bread crumbs. I didn't realize until I was in the weeds that the recipe left out a step, that is, the egg-dunking one (it mentions mixing up the egg and milk, but oddly omits it from the rest of the instructions), so I needed a little trial-and-error to figure out that egg-dunking went in-between the flour and bread crumbs.

Drum roll, please.......the finished poppers were very good, some even great, although the heat level varied significantly from popper to popper. Mrs. Hackknife and I enjoyed them with both carne asada one night and a potato skillet another night. Given the level of effort involved in making them and the spicy nature, however, I think we'll reserve these as an appetizer for the next fight night. Here's the recipe: popper recipe.

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