Smoked Bacon Jalapeno Poppers
A couple weeks ago, we bought a smoker. After having made proper back bacon, we just HAD TO.
That first day of smoking things, we went a little nuts: A couple kinds of sausage. Poblanos. Peanuts! A chicken (that one didn't go so well, though). The big standout from the day? Smoked Bacon Jalapeno Poppers.
These happened as a bit of an evolution. My husband bought a little metal holder thing for smoking jalapenos upright, with the thought that we could use them in my cooking, or even just making salsa. Fair enough... but what if we stuffed them full of cheese before smoking? ... better yet, what if we forget the stand, slice the peppers in half, wrap them in bacon, and smoke THAT? It has always been our preferred style of poppers *in the oven*, but smoking them could be really great, right?
So, we did. They were AMAZING - super addictive. I thought I was really a genius for coming up with them... until a friend on Facebook informed me that they were already a "thing" in the smoking community. Well, crap.
So, while I can't take credit for actually inventing an original thing here, I HAVE to share our recipe. These take a little bit of prep work, but are SO worth it. Brave the snow and put some of these on to bring to your holiday potlucks, or just keep them in your fridge for quick snacks. Just be sure to make at least twice as many smoked bacon jalapeno poppers as what you think you'll need, because they go fast. (Understatement of the year!)
This recipe can be tweaked to suit personal taste: If you scrape out all of the seeds and ribs from the peppers, they have flavour without heat. If you leave some of the seeds/ribs in, you can get anywhere between a little heat, to scorching. They can be served cold, room temp, or hot - we prefer them reheated.
The amounts listed for cheeses and bacon are approximate: The amount of filling and bacon you need will depend on the size of your peppers, how full you pipe them, and the cut of your bacon. We recommend thin or regular cut bacon, as we didn't like the texture thick cut left after being smoked.
Quick bit of advice: I highly recommend using nitrile/ latex/whatever gloves for preparing the poppers. You will come in contact with an insane amount of capsaicin, and it can burn!
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Smoked Jalapeno Poppers Recipe
5 lbs jalapeno peppers
~ 3.5 lbs cream cheese
1/2 - 1 lb shredded cheese of choice (we used a peppered blend)
~ 3.5 lbs bacon
About 5 disposable pastry bags
At least an hour before smoking - but ideally overnight - soak your wood chips in water.
Wearing gloves, cut the tops off the peppers, and cut each in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scrape out as much or as little of the seeds and ribs as you'd like, set aside.
In a large bowl, microwave the cream cheese for 30-60 seconds at a time until it's soft enough to stir well. Beat until creamy and with no lumps. Add shredded cheese, stir until well distributed.
Spoon all of the mixture into piping/frosting /pastry bags, trying to avoid creating air pockets as you go, and leaving enough room to twist the bag shut. (You can spoon the filling in, if you like... but piping it in is so much quicker, easier, and cleaner!)
Cut 3/4-1" off the pointed end of the bag, carefully pipe filling into each of the pepper halves, as shown.
This is a good time to preheat your smoker (or charcoal grill) to about 200F
Next, wrap the poppers in bacon. Depending on the size of your poppers and the cut of your bacon, you'll want between 1/2 - 1 strip of bacon per popper.
Leaving a little room between each, transfer the prepared poppers to your smoker racks.
Smoke for 1-2 hours, checking on them right around the 1 hour mark. For our smoker, we use 2 big handfuls of wood chips at a time, adding more chips after about 30-40 minutes.
You can also cook these on a normal charcoal grill: we'll toss about 1 big handful of wood chips right on the coals, adding more about every 20 minutes.
With our smoker, one hour produces poppers that look like this (how *I* like them):
... and 1.5 - 2 hours produces poppers like THIS, how my husband prefers them:
... try to let them cool for at least a few minutes after they come out of the smoker, as they'll be molten inside and burn your mouth. I have a hard time waiting, so I won't judge if you park yourself next to the newly-removed poppers like a wild eyed vulture 🙂
* We like to use the "Jack Daniels" wood chips for this, which we purchase on Amazon. Click here to view the listing we use
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