Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Homemade Jalapeno Poppers

I made 132 of these last summer, and trust me, that was no easy task!If you've ever worked with hot peppers, you know how these can burn even through rubber gloves! Whatever you do, do NOT try to cut up jalapeno peppers (or ANY hot pepper!!) without rubber gloves!!! The picture above shows them already made, individually frozen, in a freezer bag, and ready to cook or go back into the freezer.

We happened to have a bumper crop of all peppers last year~ cayenne, jalapeno, serrano, and various shades of bell peppers. I cut, chopped, froze, pickled, and stuffed my way through a myriad of peppers last summer and fall. With one large bucket of jalapenos staring me in the face, I decided to make Jalapeno Poppers for Bob as he loves them. It turns out that my grandson Steven also loves them!

These are not for the faint of heart. These are time-consuming as they took me 5 hours to make. There are multiple steps involved, but if you want to customize your own poppers, want to eat organic on the cheap (we try to grow all our foods organically), and want to know the quality of the foods you are eating, then homemade is the way to go. These are well worth the effort.

I went to several sites to compare recipes so I could customize my own poppers. The 'favorite' recipe I came across used unseasoned bread crumbs, but I used Italian seasoned for more flavor. All used Bacon Bits (yuck!), I used real fried and crumbled bacon. I wanted some onion flavor so I chopped some chives from my yard. I added way more Cheddar than most recipes called for, and I made these the way I wanted them. I am going to give a basic recipe, with some modifications, and then you can go on your own gastronomic trip with your own modifications to fit your own tastes. I did use the 12 ounces of cream cheese as a base, but then I dumped some of this and some of that as I wanted to add it to the pot. These are just basic measurements from modified recipes so don't be afraid to go a bit wild and add your own touch to these.
Remember~USE RUBBER GLOVES when seeding peppers!!!!!!!

Jalapeno Poppers
                                                                                                                        Makes 32
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
8 ounces grated Cheddar cheese (you can use mild, medium, or sharp)
1 Tbls Bacon Bits (No! No!No! fry your own bacon, crumble it and add waaaaayyy more!!!)
12 ounces (about 16) jalapenos, seeded and cut in half
1 cup milk (Whole milk works best, and raw best of all)
1 cup unbleached flour
1 cup dry bread crumbs (Italian seasoned are best, and you can make your own!)
1-2 Tbls. chopped fresh chives (optional, my own addition)
2 quarts oil for frying (I used organic palm oil for best results, or you can use high quality tallow or lard)

Combine cheeses, bacon, and chives. Parsley can be added, too, if desired.
Spoon into pepper halves.
Place milk in a bowl.
Place flour in a bowl.
Place bread crumbs in a bowl.
Dip each pepper in milk, then flour. Let dry for about 10 minutes.
Dip in milk then bread crumbs. Allow to dry for 10 minutes.
Repeat process and make sure all pepper is coated.
If eating right away proceed to how to fry. If storing for later use, then place each pepper on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet and place in freezer for about 1 hour. Then place peppers in a freezer bag and then in a container to help keep them fresh for up to 1 year. Keep frozen till ready to use.
For frying: heat oil to 365 degrees. Deep fry a few at a time for 2-3 minutes each till golden brown. Place on paper towels to drain before serving.

Tips:Use high quality ingredients for best taste.
        Use a good smoky bacon, cook well and crumble before assembling peppers.
        If you don't make your own bread crumbs, then use a brand that has no high fructose corn syrup
        in them. Giant Eagle makes their own Market brand that is okay.
        Grate your own Cheddar if you want better taste.
        Parsley and chives are good in this recipe.
        Don't be afraid to experiment!

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