Monday, November 22, 2010

The Desire

Do you ever get one of those late night cravings for something you know you shouldn't eat? And, you don't really want any of your friends to know you were actually craving that particular item? It happens to me. I like good food, but every once in a while I eat something-something I shouldn't.
Sometimes it's just because it's cheap.
Sometimes it's for the nostalgia.
Sometimes I just don't have very many options.
More often than not I am sooooo sorry I indulged. Kind of like eating ice cream when you are lactose intolerant. Just a few short hours later your body starts a rebellion.
One of those late-night snacks my husband and I find ourselves indulging in is Jalapeno Poppers. Or Pepper Poppers. Or whatever. I have seen them all different ways, shapes and sizes; wrapped in bacon, grilled, fried and baked. I made a fancy version with bread crumbs, and you had to keep the jalapeno whole. You slit the side of it, deveined it and stuffed with cheddar cheese. It was good, but not that flavor pop that I was hoping for.
So, I made my own. I often take a few different principles and combine them to create what I want. This was the case with these poppers. The great thing is, because I made this recipe, I can change it. If I don't have bread crumbs, I just use egg batter. If I don't have sharp cheddar, I use jack, Colby jack or white cheddar. You could use pepper jack, goat cheese, feta or brie. You could even use Velveeta if you wanted. It's all up to you. You could also add bacon bits to the filling, if you so desire.
I would caution you to use gloves. I make things with jalapenos all the time, but for some reason when I do 10 jalapenos for poppers, I end up with hands that feel like they had a very long bath in turpentine. They hurt. I also find myself, somehow, forgetting that my hands are burning from the oil of jalapenos that I can't wash off no matter how I try, and rubbing my suddenly itchy eye. It is not pleasant. Consider yourself warned.
The recipe is fairly easy. Mix up a filling that consists of cream cheese, cheddar cheese and Tabasco. Cut jalapenos into bite-size pieces and devein. Dip in egg batter or bread crumbs, and fry. They really are quite simple. The very large jalapenos found at the grocery store work quite well and don't seem to be as hot as the small version I grow in my garden. Which works out pretty good for everybody involved. You can pan fry or deep fry the poppers, until they are a beautiful golden brown. Resist the urge to pop one in your mouth for about five minutes; the cream cheese and cheddar cheese marry and create a child that could be related to magma.

Jalapeno Poppers

4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons red pepper sauce (like Tabasco)
1/4 teaspoon +1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon +1/2 teaspoon pepper
10 medium jalapenos, cut in thirds and deveined
1 egg
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (optional)

1-2 cups oil for frying

Combine cream cheese, cheddar cheese, hot pepper sauce, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Set aside. Mix egg and cornstarch well in a second bowl. Set aside. Combine flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a third bowl. Set aside. Pour bread crumbs (if using) in a fourth bowl.
Stuff jalapenos with cream cheese mixture. Heat oil to medium-high heat. Dredge jalapenos in flour, then egg, then flour.
If using breadcrumbs, dredge in flour, then egg, then flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. Fry for 3-4 minutes on each side, turning once.
Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to cool.
Makes 30.

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