It sounds silly, but one of the foods that I really miss since going on a gluten-free diet is the very low-brow and delicious jalapeno popper. It’s not like I ate them all the time, but I did used to go work in Texas every summer and I really, really enjoyed eating jalapeno poppers. For those of you who are too classy to know what I am talking about, a jalapeno popper is a jalapeno that has had its seeds scooped out, been stuffed with cheese, battered and then deep-fried. Don’t judge me. Jalapeno poppers rock! They are really, really tasty.
The last time I was in Texas I was boring a lovely young woman who I was working with, by wistfully expressing my longing for a jalapeno popper and explaining why this longing could not be fullfilled because there was always some wheat flour lurking in the batter that seemed to be cornmeal…blah…blah…blah…and this sweet, intelligent, kind texas girl said “You know my family makes poppers without any wheat. You just wrap the peppers up in bacon and do ’em on the BBQ instead of all that battering and frying.” Of course you wrap them in bacon! Isn’t wrapping it in bacon always the solution!
Now, this girl grew up on a ranch in Texas, so she had more access to barbecuing than I do. However, I remembered that one long ago Thanksgiving my friend Larisa brought water chestnuts which she had wrapped in bacon and sprinkled with sugar, and baked them in my oven. The resulting treat is so good…I have to put it out of my mind or I will start making it as a regular snack for myself….Sorry I got distracted…the point is that I knew that I could reproduce the bacon wrapped jalepeno popper at home using Larisa’s technique!
I made jalapeno poppers for our engagement cocktail party a while back, and lately I have just been making them….and eating them. They go well with Apple, Fennel and Red Cabbage Slaw, which surely is healthy enough to balance out the wrongness of cheese stuffed, bacon wrapped jalapenos.
GLUTEN-FREE JALAPENO POPPERS
- As many large jalapeno peppers as you want to serve
- Cream cheese (One block will fill about 15 peppers)
- a slice of very thin cut bacon for each pepper
- a bit of brown sugar
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Cut the stems of off each of the peppers and use a small serrated knife to scape the seeds and core out of the peppers. A tomato knife works really well if you have one.
- Stuff the peppers with cream cheese. I found that this went better if I sculpted my little wad of cream cheese into pointy pepper shape before trying to stuff it in. I am sorry, there is just no way to give that tip without sounding dirty.
- Drape a piece of bacon over the open end of the pepper to cover the cheese, then wrap the bacon in a spiral to cover the entire pepper. You could use water-soaked toothpicks to secure the bacon, but I find that it sticks to itself pretty well.
- Place the bacon wrapped peppers on a baking sheet and sprinkle them with a bit of brown sugar.
- Bake the peppers for about half an hour or until the bacon is fully cooked and beginning to crisp up.
- Eat them or serve them to your friends with cocktails.