stuffed jalapeno peppers
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You can bake theses cheesy stuffed jalapenos or you can grill them. This is the best appetiser I can think of: jalapeno chilli pepper halves, filled with a mix of cream cheese and Cheddar, slide in the oven and emerge twice as healthy and as just tasty as deep fried jalapeno poppers.
Jalapeno poppers, the favourite snack of Jason Mendoza, are disgustingly delicious, breaded and deep fried stuffed jalapeno peppers. Of course, wouldn’t you know it: the most deliciously disgusting things are deep fried.
I always think I am not hugely keen on deep fried food but let’s see: fish and chips. Arancini. Churros. Ebi fry. Doughnuts. I might be keen after all, it turns out. More delicious stuff is deep fried than you want to admit to yourself, Mars bars notwithstanding.
It’s a violent cooking method it must be said, provoking unwanted images of missionaries sat in vats of oil. The reason why we love oil fried stuff so much is probably due to the hot oil sealing, searing and preserving juicy and intact the meat that is thrown into it. Similar thing happens to dough or batter immersed in hot oil – it gets scorched on the outside, amplifying the Maillard’s reaction whilst only gently cooking the soft inside.
The deep fryers’ content is predominantly oil but, as especially the English Northerners will tell you, it’s because the Southerners are clueless wimps: lard or beef fat is the old school, hardcore, experts’ fat of choice. I’m indifferent to beef drippings as I’m not a fish and chips connoisseur (that’s where it matters) but I’ll agree with lard: traditionally used for cooking doughnuts in Poland. Though I’ll admit my attempt to fry them in British lard was a stinking flop. It must be super pure; British isn’t.
Sadly, like so many best things in life (sugar, alcohol, smartphones) deep fried foods including jalapeno poppers are very unhealthy. Frying! in oil! all those trans fats absorbed into the food! And there’s totally no denying that deep fried deliciousness is weighty in calories. I don’t know. Usually when I look into the pan there’s about as much oil left in it as before I plunged the chips in. I’ll tell you – it is the batter, the tempura, the breadcrumbs that are the source of evil.
So these stuffed jalapenos are healthy-ish, if you believe cream cheese and Cheddar are healthy and I do. They are also so, so good that I dare not even think how good the proper poppers would be. Well, one day when I’m so skinny and healthy that I won’t care (it will probably be the latter without the first two boxes ticked), I’ll make the real McCoy.
stuffed jalapeno peppersServings: 4-6Time: 40 minutes
- 12 jalapeño peppers
- 1-2 tbsp. olive oil
- 100g (¼ pound) mature Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, grated
- 100g (¼ pound) cream cheese
- 2 tbsp. double cream
- ½ small bunch or fresh coriander, finely chopped
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1.To prepare the jalapeños, wear disposable kitchen gloves. Halve each pepper lengthwise all through the stem if you manage. Scrape the seeds and membrane out with a small spoon or knife. Place them on a roasting tray and toss with olive oil.
2.Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas 5.
3.Mash together the Cheddar, cream cheese, cream and coriander; season with salt and pepper. Fill the jalapeño halves with the mix using a pastry piping bag or a small butter knife. Press the filling into the peppers.
4.Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese bubbles and browns lightly. Serve immediately.