Is it Junk? Jalapeno Poppers

All You Need:

Jalapeno (I use 10 large ones at a time)
2 blocks of cream cheese, softened
3 cups of shredded cheddar cheese 
sheet pans
oven
freezer
broiler

What You Do:

To Prep:

Split peppers and remove membrane and seeds (unless you want them super spicy!).

In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese and shredded cheese. (I use my hands because it makes it go faster.)

Stuff peppers with cheese mixture and lay flat on a baking sheet. Freeze for at leas 4 hours or until solid. This way, you can store them in a bag or stack them in a container without them freezing into a solid lump.

To Cook:

When ready to cook, remove the amount you want to make. Place them on a microwave safe dish and microwave at full power for 30 seconds. Set your oven broiler to 500°. Once the broiler is preheated, place peppers about 3 inches away from broiler (top rack) and watch. Depending on your oven and your peppers, this can take anywhere from 3-8 minutes. Remove peppers when they start to develop dark brown spots. 


The Wordy Bit

Okay, I know what you're thinking. "Microwave? Seriously?" Well...it's still a work in progress, and after 15 different iterations of prep and cook methods, this is the best one we've had, so far. I started with coating the poppers in a flour-egg-panko breading. It tasted great and had a nice crunch...but it was so unappealing looking! The anemic pale panko that never quite browned properly in the air fryer or the oven....I just couldn't do it.

Next, we tried a flour-egg-breadcrumb combo that was a soft brown. So it wasn't as bad as the panko, but it still wasn't quite right. Not to mention, it didn't crunch. It was a softer breading that didn't have an appetizing mouth-feel. 



My husband suggested we do naked poppers. I was hesitant, but he was right. The peppers were more flavorful and definitely more appetizing in appearance. The issue we ran into at that point was our peppers were getting soggy. The breading provided both a buffer against the heat (which degrades the structure of the pepper) and a means to absorb any leeching juices from the pepper. The naked peppers don't have that protection, so you have to be very careful about cooking them to maintain their natural crunch while also getting them warm enough to render the filling gooey. Microwaving the peppers before broiling them softens the filling enough to ensure the broiling time warms the filling all the way through (without microwaving, the filling is still cold in the center). Broiling the peppers cooks them hard and fast enough to get them hot, give the filling a beautiful char look, and maintains their structure so they are still crunchy.

I'm sure we'll continue tweaking this recipe, and I may even revisit it again and write more about it. So far, this method is the best for us. 

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