So I see a lot of ibles about how to make poppers, and they've all been about "half" jalapenos. I make whole poppers.
I won't say too much about what I put in them because everybody has a different twist on that; however, I will say that the best bacon to use is Applewood. I will say that I haven't used Applewood smoked bacon for a long time because when I make poppers, I make AT LEAST 120 at a time and that bacon, although DELICIOUS, is also expensive. If I ever make a small batch, I definitely would use Applewood. But you don't want to use the cheapest brand either because very cheap bacon tends to be lacking in form and consistency.
Let your bacon sit out to at least room temperature (I do this when I'm preparing the jalapenos and mixing up my cream cheese mixture) so that the bacon is pliable, allowing you to stretch the bacon to longer lengths so that you can wrap the jalapeno properly. Cold bacon right out of the fridge just won't work..
Because of the way I wrap them, I don't have to use toothpicks. If you use turkey bacon, then you would definitely need them. The turkey bacon doesn't have enough fat in it to allow it to conform to the shape of the jalapeno. Don't get me wrong. In a small batch, another option for me is turkey bacon, and I actually like the taste a lot better (and it's better for you anyway).
First of all, I want to introduce you to the best two tools I have, the Victorinox peeler and the pastry bag (with tip). This peeler is narrow and it allows for left/right use. Here's a link that shows you what it looks like: https://www.etundra.com/kitchen-supplies/food-prep... Inexpensive so I have two.
This thing is SHARP so be careful. After you've cut the tops off of the jalapeno, insert the peeler in the core and then twist in a circle to make a hole. Hold the top of the jalapeno FIRMLY because as you're moving your peeler in a circle, you have to get closer to the edge of the jalapeno and it could cause the edge to split. As you're twisting the peeler, also push down. This is to scrape the sides to help remove the entire core of the jalapeno. Then slide it out. Most of the jalapeno core should come right out. Depending on how much you take out also depends on how hot you want them. Sometimes I save some seeds and add it to my cream cheese. Of course, since I make so many at a time, I become lazy and don't worry too much if I removed every single seed. Also, this method doesn't work if your jalapenos are curved, so you're not always able to remove everything anyway.
If you're using cream cheese as a filling, the pastry bag and tip (bought at ACE Hardware) is the way to go. My tip is 3/8". You can buy disposable or reusable pastry bags. So what I do is microwave my cream cheese to the point I can stir it, and then add to it any spices or other ingredients I want. Load the pastry bag. Fill your jalapeno about halfway (I'll explain why in a minute).
The picture above (Sorry for the crude drawing. I guess my kids got all the artistic talent.) shows how I wrap my poppers, overlapping the hole and then wrapping the bacon around the bottom of the jalapeno, back up to the top edge and catching the overlapped bacon and then in spiraling motion back down toward the bottom. This HELPS keep your filling from seeping out during the baking process, thus, no toothpicks needed. It doesn't necessarily mean that none of your filling will come out.
I hate doing dishes so to solve that problem, I wrap my cookie sheets in heavy duty foil and then add a sheet of Reynolds Wrap heavy duty nonstick foil. This saves me tons of time. If you find that your poppers have leaked, it's easy enough to remove with a spoon whatever filling has spilled out. I leave the pans sit until the grease has hardened enough that I can just roll up the foil and throw it away, without any dish cleaning on my part.
Oh, almost forgot...the reason for not filling the jalapenos all the way is because since they're baking on their sides, the more filled they are, the more filling tends to spill out. These poppers also freeze very well, but they really don't last that long at my house. All of a sudden I get visitors when they find out I've made them. Hmmm...
Thank you. Hope this helps somebody.