When you go to a party, what type of snack do you tend to reach for first? For me, it’s generally savory. I love spicy… not the “holy cow, get me a giant vat of milk before my mouth incinerates” kind of spicy… but the kind where you go, “mmmm. ooh! nice little kick”. That’s what these are. Jalapeños as a whole don’t have a ton of heat, and when they’re cooked and a dairy item is added, nearly all of the spice is gone. But there’s a tiny heat that lingers. That my friends, is quite addictive, in my opinion. So, I thought I’d share a very simple recipe with you, so you can be the hit of your next party.
Jalapeno Bacon Boats
2 dozen jalapeno peppers
2- 8oz. blocks cream cheese (not the low fat kind!)
2 dozen slices of Trader Joe’s Nitrate Free pre-cooked bacon
1½-2 cups Shredded Cheddar
As with any spicy pepper that’s got heat, please be careful when you cut into them. You can either choose to wear plastic or latex gloves, or just wash your hands really, really, really well after handling. And please don’t touch any part of your eyes or skin, or you may be burning up for a while afterward. Okay, now that that’s over, let’s get to work! In order to make these cute little boats, slice each pepper lengthwise, trying to get half of the stem on each piece. Will they taste better that way? Of course not. Then why go to the effort? Cause it just looks better. 😉 Once they’re all sliced, carefully scoop out the seeds with a grapefruit spoon and make sure none of them land on the floor! Once they’re all seed-free, place them in a large freezer bag overnight. This will make your cooking day’s job all that much easier. PS: A huge thanks to Kenny, who scooped out all of the seeds in the peppers you see in this photo. 🙂
Start by preheating the oven to 450°. Make sure your two oven racks are evenly spaced. Lay out the jalapeños cut side up on 2 foil-lined cookie sheets. Here comes a great trick: Put the cream cheese in a food processor and whiz it around for quite some time till you’ve whipped in a ton of air. This makes it light, soft, and really easy to pipe out of a bag. (A HA! that’s the trick!) Now spoon all of the cream cheese into a gallon-sized freezer bag, and zip up the top. Cut a little hole about the size of a pencil eraser in one of the bottom corners. Remember, you can always cut a larger hole, but you can’t make it smaller… so cut much smaller than you think you’ll need the first time. Gently work the cream cheese down toward the hole, and then start piping it into the jalapeños. You’ll be surprised at how quickly this goes!
Using kitchen scissors, cut each piece of bacon in half, lengthwise. Wrap one long strip of bacon around each jalapeño, so that it sprials and gets two delicoius “stripes” (see photo). I really like the nitrate-free, pre-cooked bacon from Trader Joe’s. It works perfectly for this recipe because it is pliable, and I never have to worry about eating uncooked pork. Also, this particular meat is quite lean, so each bite will have a nice meatiness to it. Yay for bacon!
Put the trays of jalapeños in the oven and bake till the peppers begin to look soft on the edges. The stems will also be a bit darker. This should take between 10-20 minutes. Why the large time difference? It depends on the jalapeños you are using, and how much cream cheese you’ve stuffed in them 😉 Just keep a close eye on them. Don’t worry – they won’t burn unless you forget about them altogether 😉
Carefully take out your cookie sheets and place them either on hot pads, or on top of the stove. Turn the oven’s heat to BROIL. Scoop a little mound of cheddar (about a Tablespoon’s worth) over each jalapeño. Once they’re all topped, put the cookie sheets back into the oven. This time you need to watch them, since broiling is a super-quick way to melt the cheese. After about 2 minutes or so, the cheese should be melty. Let it go till the cheese is a bit of a dark golden color. Again, carefully take out the cookie sheets and place them on hot pads or on top of the stove. Using tongs, gently pick up each jalapeño, trying not to squeeze it to tight, and place it on your serving dish.
When I served these at our Superbowl Party, Kenny’s good friend Dean came up to me and said, “these…are seriously like crack. I can’t stop eating them!”. I’m thinking Dean liked them. A lot! Yay! All in all, I’m sure you’ll love these too.