Recipe: Bacon Wrapped, Shrimp & Cheese Stuffed, Grilled Jalapeños
We attended a big Labor Day-ish BBQ this weekend. It was a pot-luck affair and ‘The Boys’ (shown below) took care of the smoked meat, supplying pulled-pork, smoked baby-back ribs, and smoked chicken quarters.
I volunteered for a couple of appetizers; watermelon gazpacho, and grilled jalapeño poppers. The gazpacho turned out all right, but I think the presentation did it a great injustice. The author suggested serving it in small bowls or glasses, and I opted for the glasses with a celery garnish. This led the audience to think this was some kind of exotic mixed drink instead of a cold exotic vegetable/fruit soup. I’ll try it again some time and serve it in small bowls with a different garnish and see how it’s received. Or maybe I should just give in and serve it with ice and vodka…
When somebody tells me I can make ‘the best grilled jalapeño poppers’ and it includes the phrase ‘bacon wrapped’, well I’m just going to have to try it. How can it lose? Even if the jalapeño popper part fails, the bacon-wrap will save the day. This appetizer was deceptively difficult to make. I mean, there are only four ingredients and each step in the process was pretty easy, but in the end it seemed a lot like a Thanksgiving dinner. It takes all day to make and is consumed in about 15 minutes.
Cut the peppers in half as shown. Take care to keep your hands and fingers away from your eyes from here on out. You don’t need jalapeño juice in your eyes, trust me on that. Also, should you need to answer the call of nature, you’re going to want to thoroughly wash your hands before and after, as a matter of both self defense (before) and proper hygiene (after). Again, just trust me here.
Remove the seeds and membranes from the peppers. This was the most time consuming step. Maybe someone out there knows how to do this quickly, but I don’t. I ended up using a small spoon to scoop out the seeds and membranes.
The recipe’s author recommends queso fresco over cream cheese because queso fresco’s higher melting point will allow it to better survive the grilling stage. That sounded good to me, plus queso fresco just sounds like a cooler ingredient. As you can see above, I didn’t use much at all. Next time I’ll use more, maybe twice as much per popper. The cheese did indeed survive the grilling stage, and I think more cheese would make them even better.
Wrapping these bad boys was pretty easy, just a little time consuming. Keep the bacon refrigerated while you’re wrapping them, taking a few pieces out at a time. It’s easier to work with bacon that is cold rather than at room temperature. Start wrapping at the small end and overlap heavily as you go so that you only need a single toothpick at the top to secure things. After they’ve all been wrapped, return to the fridge until you’re ready to grill.
Grill the poppers over a medium to medium-high grill. You’ll reduce the flare-up problem if you put a drip pan underneath the grill to catch the grease (I grilled on the upper grill and just made a foil drip pan that I put directly under the poppers). Put the poppers on the grill with cheese side down first for about 3 minutes, turn and cook the other side for 3 more minutes, until the bacon is crisp and done. Remove to a serving dish and allow to rest for a couple of minutes (or be prepared to treat mouths burned by molten queso fresco).
|Stuffed and Grilled Jalapeno Poppers|
- 6 Fresh jalapeno peppers
- 1/2 Lb. raw shrimp
- Queso Fresco
- 12 Slices of bacon
- Peel and de-vein the shrimp. Mince the meat and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate.
- Cut the peppers in half, length-wise. Scoop out the seeds and membranes.
- Spoon reserved shrimp meet into each of the pepper halves.
- Add a slice of queso fresco onto each of the pepper halves.
- Wrap each popper with bacon, starting at the small end of the pepper and overlapping heavily to the top. Secure with a single toothpick. Refrigerate poppers until ready to grill.
- Grill on a medium to medium-high grill for 3 minutes, cheese side down. Then turn and grill an additional 3 minutes or until the bacon is crisp and done. Remove to a serving dish and allow to cool slightly.
Rating: The only complaint I heard was that they were gone too quickly. These get 5 out of 5 Negra Modelos. If you’re worried that the peppers will be too spicy, don’t be. Removing the seeds and membranes takes most of the heat out, and the cheese smooths the whole flavor profile quite well.