We know that a great many people are enjoying more heat in their foods these days. Jalapeños, while on the low end of the heat scale, provide a little zip and the pleasant note of roasted pepper when cooked on the grill. You can stuff these little peppers with a great many delicious things and wrap them in bacon for a simple appetizer at your next grill-out.
All you need to do is core and seed your jalapeños and stuff them with whatever you like. Before you start stuffing, soak as many toothpicks in water as you have jalapeños for a minimum of 10-15 minutes. That way, when you secure that big piece of smoky bacon around the jalapeño with a toothpick, having soaked the toothpicks first will prevent them from going up in flames right off the bat and freeing your bacon from its proper place around the pepper.
There are two ways to clean and stuff a jalapeño. One way is to remove the “cap” and cut down and around the edges inside the pepper to remove any membranes and all those little seeds (that’s where the really hot stuff lives). This method leaves the pepper’s “shell” intact and is best for folks who can handle more heat because it seldom allows you to remove every last bit of the hot parts of the pepper. The other method is to cut the cap off and then cut the pepper in half, lengthwise, allowing for easier scooping-out of the unwanted insides of the jalapeño. After you’re done cleaning and trimming your peppers, get to stuffin’.
As far as fillings go, some of our favorites are:
~ Spicy Italian Sausage
~ Cream Cheese
~ Cheddar Cheese
~ Minced Fresh Garlic
We recommend cooking any meat that you might be using (except the bacon) ahead of time and then mixing it with your chosen cheese. So far, we’ve favored the Wild Cherrywood Smoked Bacon as a wrap for fillings involving Cheddar Cheese and the Applewood Smoked Bacon for fillings using the Cream Cheese, but both combos were equally tasty, so it would be hard to go wrong, either way. We’ve even heard of people stuffing these with hamburger, rice, or pineapple, although no one here has tried those particular versions themselves, so stuff at your own risk.
When you have your peppers stuffed, cut slices of bacon in half and wrap a half-slice around each stuffed jalapeño, securing it with one of those pre-soaked toothpicks. Place your peppers on the grill and cook them until the cheese begins to melt, the bacon is nicely browned, and the skin of the jalapeños begin to blister a just bit. For a perfect example of what the end result should look like, check out these smoked sausage-stuffed beauties from Andre Pluess & Michael Griggs of Baconfest Chicago fame.
Serve these while they are warm and make sure to savor the last opportunities for late summer cookouts!