Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

June 24, 2013

Plenty of Peppers: Stuffed, grilled, baked, fried...try ’em all

Amy Brocato Pearson
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, but I far prefer them stuffed, to be honest.

The jalapeno pepper, a staple of Tex-Mex cuisine, can be pickled, if you like. Or fried. Or smoked, jellied, candied, muddled sauteed, served raw, grilled, stewed or diced in other foods. The medium-sized chili pepper, native to Mexico, has mild flesh and gets its heat from the capsicum in the seeds and pitch. The jalapeno can vary from having overall mild heat to red-face-gasping-grabbing-the-milk-carton kick. Much depends on the preparation and cleaning method.

Today, we're going to talk about stuffing them.

There are a few different ways to stuff a jalapeno.

The first is to slice off the stem end, clean out the seeds and pith, and stuff the pepper. The second is to slice them in half lengthwise, clean out the seeds and pitch, and stuff it. The third is more of what is known as a "popper." Stuff the pepper using either method and deep-fry it.

I'm partial to stuffing method No. 2, then grilling the pepper. It gets a smoky flavor from the grill and the filling gets all melty and yummy. Today's recipes run the gamut on stuffing methods, filling flavors and cooking techniques. You might want to consider wearing gloves when cleaning your jalapenos, because if you've ever rubbed your eye after working with this pepper, well, you'll never do it again,

No matter which route you choose (they're pretty mix-and-match), pick a pepper and pop it in your mouth for a flavor explosion.

Grilled Stuffed Jalapenos

Serves 6 as appetizers

12 jalapeno peppers, washed

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

1 Tbsp hot sauce

6 slices bacon, crisp and crumbled

salt and pepper to taste

Combine cream cheese, blue cheese, hot sauce, bacon, salt and pepper. Mix well, set aside.

Wash outside of jalapenos. Slice in half lengthwise, leaving as much stem in tact on both halves as possible. Carefully scrape out seeds and pith using a spoon. Stuff peppers with about 2 tablespoons of the filling, pressing into the hollowed out portion of the pepper.

Prepare grill to medium heat. Place peppers on direct heat and close lid. Grill until peppers begin to char and soften and filling is soft. Serve immediately.

Cornbread Stuffed Jalapenos

12 med/large fresh jalapenos

1 box of cornbread mix, such as Jiffy

1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar (1 cup for the batter..1/2 cup for sprinkling on top)

1 cup corn, fresh or canned

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Slice each jalapeno down the center and carefully remove all the seeds and veins..set aside. In a medium bowl, mix up the cornbread batter according to the box instructions, add in the corn and 1 cup of the cheddar. Fill each jalapeno half with some batter. Sprinkle them all with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar.

Place them on a baking rack and sheet pan, bake them at 350 for about 15-20 minutes, or until the cornbread is firm and cooked through.

Buffalo Chicken Jalapenos

Serves 12

12 jalapeno peppers

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/4 cup hot sauce

1/4 cup butter, melted

2 ounces cream cheese

4 ounces blue cheese

1 stalk celery, very finely chopped

Poach chicken until cooked through. Shred with two forks. Set aside. Combine melted butter and hot sauce. Toss with shredded chicken.

Thoroughly combine cream cheese, blue cheese and celery. Add chicken and stir well to mix.

Cut the tops off of the jalapeno peppers. Remove seeds and pith. Stuff with buffalo chicken mixture. Arrange in a jalapeno baking tray and bake at 350 for about 15 minutes until peppers soften and filling is bubbly. Serve with ranch dressing for dipping.

Texas Armadillo Eggs

3 cans (12 ounces each) whole pickled jalapeno peppers

4 cups (16 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, divided

1 pound bulk pork sausage

1-1/2 cups biscuit/baking mix

3 eggs, lightly beaten

2 envelopes pork-flavored seasoned coating mix (like Shake 'N Bake)

Cut each jalapeno in half lengthwise; remove seeds and stems. Stuff

each pepper half with about 1 tablespoon cheddar cheese. In a bowl, combine the uncooked sausage, biscuit mix and remaining cheese; mix well. Shape about 2 tablespoonfuls around each pepper.

Dip into eggs, then roll in coating mix. Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Yield: about 3 dozen.