Grilled Stuffed Jalapeños

 photo 252.jpgI’m currently obsessed with grilled and stuffed jalapeños. These are an upscale take on the classic bar snack, jalapeño poppers, but are grilled instead of deep-fried. I’ve made them once a month over the past couple of months and since it’s tailgate season, I still consider them a relevant appetizer for fall.

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My dad got one of those grates that you put on the grill — the kind that perfectly fits 36 jalapeños. If you’re into stuffed and grilled jalapeños, I highly recommend you get this tool. It’s under $15 and totally worth it because cooking them directly on the grill can get a bit messy. If they are cooked on their side rather than standing up right, the cheese stuffing (when warm and melty) has a tendency to ooze out of the jalapeños. The only problem with the jalapeño grate is that you have to bring it with you to the store to ensure that the jalapeños will fit in the holes. Large jalapeños will not fit, but this is fine, because you want this app to be no more than a two biter.

FullSizeRender 3Make the filling a day or two in advance and keep chilled in the fridge. Stuff the jalapeños up to 6 hours before you plan on serving them. Store in the grate in the fridge covered with saran wrap until you’re ready to grill. To make these appetizers vegetarian, simply omit the bacon. Blitz everything in the food processor and set aside some of the mixture for vegetarians. Add the bacon, process again, and use that mixture for carnivores. Identify the vegetarian peppers from the bacon ones, by filling red or yellow fresno chili peppers with the vegetarian mixture. Put the bacon in the green jalapeños.

FullSizeRender 2Grilled Stuffed Jalapeños

5 slices thick-cut bacon
1 8-oz package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
5 green onions, roughly chopped
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
36 small-to-medium sized jalapeños

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the bacon on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until it is crisp and fully cooked. Set aside and let cool.
  2. When the bacon is cool enough to handle, coarsely chop. Place it in the bowl of a food processor. Add the following five ingredients. Process until everything is well combined. Scrape down the side of the processor. Generously season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Process once more and taste. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Set aside. (Or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.)
  3. Prepare the jalapeños: slice off and discard the stems and tops of each pepper. Using a small spoon, or a grapefruit spoon if you have one, carefully scrape the seeds and membranes from the inside of the jalapeño. Use a circular motion to remove all of the insides. Discard. Repeat with the remaining jalapeños. Place the jalapeños in the grate.
  4. Wash your hands well with soap and water. This is a crucial step — especially if you wear contacts. You do not want the jalapeños essential oils lingering on your fingers.
  5. Fill a piping bag fitted with a round, wide tip (or large plastic baggie if you don’t have a piping bag) with the cheese and bacon filling. Squeeze the bag to fill each jalapeño with the mixture.
  6. Preheat a grill to medium heat. Place the grate on the grill over direct heat and cook the jalapeños, for 15 minutes until the jalapeños are charred. Keep an eye on them and cover the grill for at least 5 minutes to ensure the entire jalapeño cooks. Enjoy immediately.

Makes 36 appetizer pieces.

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