Whether grilled or fried, Jalapeño poppers are always a crowd favorite. After experimenting with the various options, this version has become the favorite for my crowd!
I started my jalapeño popper journey thinking that I would use fresh peppers, but after frying a few dozen, it turns out that fresh is not always better. The main reason is that here in Texas, the local jalapeños vary drastically in their level of heat. Just when you get a few good ones, the next one is so hot that it’s almost inedible. That’s never good when you have friends over, so I decided to try the canned, pickled jalapeños. The results were far better than I expected. The canned chiles are much more predictable, and I actually like the subtle vinegar flavor they provide.
The next challenge was finding a solution for coating the chiles. For the first phase of the coating process, I reverted to the method I use for fried chicken: flour and buttermilk. This is where the canned chiles really help. Since they come out of the can wet, the flour adheres to them nicely, unlike the fresh chiles who would be spotty at best. That first coat of flour is critical in getting the remaining coats to adhere.
For the wet coat, buttermilk works better to coat the chiles than beaten eggs. Just a quick dip and the chiles are ready for the final coating. Selecting the final coating was a no-brainer: panko. The texture of panko is part of what makes these poppers so tasty.
As for the stuffing? Well, jalapeños can be stuffed just about anyway you like. Whether you prefer Cheddar and Monterey Jack or cream cheese and bacon (like me!), use ingredients you love to make the recipe work for you. Happy cooking!
- 1 26-ounce can of pickled jalapeños
- 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 4 slices cooked bacon, roughly chopped
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups of panko bread crumbs
- Canola or peanut oil for frying
1. Cut a lengthwise slit from stem to bottom of each chile. Make a crosswise incision at the stem end to form a T in the pepper.
2. Pry open each chile and remove seeds and stems using a paring knife or a small spoon.
3. In a small bowl, combine the bacon and cream cheese until fully incorporated. Transfer mixture to a sandwich-size zip-lock baggie. Remove any air in the bag and zip the bag closed. Snip one corner of the baggie with a pair of scissors in order to pipe the mixture into the peppers. Note: the hole will need to be large enough to allow the chopped bacon pass through.
4. Fill the chiles with the cheese mixture, pressing the seams closed afterwards, so that the cheese is compacted and the chile retains its shape.
5. Pour the buttermilk into a small drinking glass. Roll each chile in flour until lightly coated, shaking off any excess flour. Dip the peppers in the buttermilk, letting the excess drip off, then coat with the panko bread crumbs. Dip the coated chile back in the buttermilk and then into the panko to form a second layer. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet and repeat for the remaining chiles. Place the baking sheet in the freezer until fully frozen.
6. Heat two inches of oil to 350°F in a medium saucepan. Fry chiles in groups of 3-4, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer to a wire-rimmed baking sheet (or a several layers of paper towels) to drain. Be sure to allow oil to come to temperature between batches. Allow chiles to cool for a couple of minutes, then serve immediately.
The recipe above was adapted from the good folks at food.people.want.