I've been making jalapeno appetizers for years and bringing them to parties to be gobbled by just about everybody. Over the years I've made some changes and adaptations. After this last Super Bowl party I made yet another change and while I was experimenting I thought I'd make an instructable out of it. I hope you enjoy!
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Step 1: Ingredients
Here's what you'll need to create these delectable appys and be assured of an invitation to all future parties:
20 to 25 jalapenos peppers
2 packages of cream cheese (softened)
1 package of powdered ranch dressing mix
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
1 pound of bacon (you need one slice for each pepper)
The ingredients in the photo don't reflect the amounts needed for a full recipe as I was only making partial batches for testing purposes.
Step 2: Prepare the Mix
Put the cream cheese in a bowl and add the cheddar cheese. Sprinkle the ranch dressing mix over the cheeses and mix it all up with a fork. You can also use a food processor for this step but if you leave the cream cheese out until its room temperature its easy enough to do by hand. I like the texture of the cheese better if you don't chop it all up with the food processor.
Set the cheese mixture aside while you do the next step.
Step 3: Stuff Those Bad Boys!
Ok the first thing is to remove the stems. You don't want to cut them off because you need to keep the end intact to keep the cheese from melting out when you cook them. So just pop them off with a twisting motion.
Then you need to cut the peppers in half lengthwise like in the picture. If you hold the pepper with the curved ends facing up you'll have a better looking end result and they'll lie down better.
Now you've got to get the seeds out. I have found that a grapefruit spoon with the serrated end works really well for this and is a lot safer than using your fingers. Nevertheless, remember to wash your hands often. Those little alcohol pads will work the best if you can get your doctor's office to donate some. Trust me, if you have to go to the bathroom during this process you will want to be very careful about washing first. Enough said.
Notice in the pictures I have them all cleaned out and the ends of the peppers are still intact. You have to leave a little bit of the white pithy stuff there and some of the seeds will want to hide up in there. That's ok, a couple of seeds will just make them interesting.
Now you have a choice to make. Wild or mild? Mild will mean almost everybody will enjoy them and compliment you on what a great cook you are. Wild will mean most people will eat one and gasp and you might end up with leftovers.
If you want your peppers to be kind of mild, go ahead and scoop the cheese mixture into the pepper halves. Don't overdo it or the excess will just melt out onto the broiler pan which is just a waste of the good stuff.
If you want people to know these are jalapenos then you need to get some of those seeds you just scraped out and mix them up with the cheese. I can't tell you how much to use but a little goes a long way. I've tried tasting the mix but it changes after its cooked and also some peppers are hotter than others. If you use all the seeds I can assure you that only the strongest will survive the experience. Not really, they are still really good but most people will steer clear of them because they will be very hot.
I got tired of the comments from some people about they aren't hot enough. So I started making both. Truth is I agreed with them. The mild ones can be disappointing if you like spicy stuff. So I do both.
Stuff half of the peppers with the seedless mixture and then put a few scoops of seeds into the remaining cheese and stuff the rest. I keep the hot ones separate from the mild ones so I can sprinkle paprika on them to mark them. The paprika doesn't change the flavor much but it works to warn the meek.
Step 4: MMmmm Bacon!
Now let's wrap this up. With bacon.
You need as many slices of bacon as you have peppers. We're going to cut the bacon in half like in the picture and use the half slices to wrap each one.
How you wrap them is important. I always start with the leading edge of the bacon just under the bottom of the pepper and hold it there while you wrap the rest around ending up usually on the top. It depends on how fat the peppers are. You can stretch it some to make sure it lays across the top so it doesn't uncurl when you broil them.
Go ahead and wrap all the peppers and put them on a broiler pan. You can use a baking tray also but the broiler pan works best to drain away some of the bacon grease.
Leave a little space between them or the bacon won't get done. The ones on the top row here are too close together.
If you made some wild ones now is when you sprinkle the paprika on them. You can see from the pictures it marks them pretty well.
Step 5: Broil
Set the oven rack onto the second level down. You don't want the peppers real close to the heat or the tops will be really crispy before the rest of the bacon gets done.
Put the peppers in and turn the oven to broil and close the door. If you're freaked out about how done your bacon needs to be then you might even put the shelf farther down and just bake them in a really hot oven. I prefer the peppers to still have some firm texture to them so I like to broil them quickly.
Ten minutes seems to work the best in my oven, yours may vary. The tops of the bacon are a little crispy, the sides are well done.
Take them out of the even and let them sit a couple of minutes to let the cheese set.
Put them on a tray and have at it. You are now the MVP of the super bowl party. (Unless somebody else brings a keg or something.)