Between now and the New Year I'm dedicating my Fridays to the cocktail hour. I'm going to explore appetizers, little plates, tapas, and all manner of late in the day snacks, nibbles, finger food, and the occasional libation to wash it all down with. I'm excited, this is my favorite way to eat, whether I'm throwing a holiday party or just hanging out with the nightly news.
This is a more elegant form of the familiar bar snack. I've replaced boring cream cheese and Monterey Jack with two kinds of Spanish cheeses, fluffy goat cheese, and manzanilla olives. I just mound it into the jalapeno pepper halves and bake them until all browned and bubbling. No frying, no heavy breaded coating, no watered down drinks, sticky floors, lame bands...
Taking the seeds and veins out of a hot pepper really neutralizes a lot of its heat, so this is a snack that most people can handle. If you're a real hot pepper lover you could mix some of the seeds back into the cheese filling.
I used a sharp paring knife and a small spoon to scoop out the insides of the peppers. Be sure to wash your hands well after doing this, and whatever you do, don't touch your eyes. And if you have a dog like mine who eats first and asks questions later, don't drop any of the lethally hot innards either!
Fill them full, but not too full, or your little boats will capsize in the oven as the hot cheese dip bubbles and expands.
Finish with a few minutes under the broiler to just singe the top of the cheese.
I served these with Crema Mexicana, leftover from the Beef Brisket Tacos. It's cool and creamy and the perfect thing to neutralize the heat of the peppers. I worried that my mouth would be on fire after my first bite, but that didn't happen at all. My peppers were pretty tame. That's the fun thing about hot peppers, they're unpredictable. There's no telling exactly how hot they'll be till you get 'em in your mouth. Best be prepared with some soothing dipping sauce.
I used a combination of Manchego and Iberico cheeses, both from Spain. I rounded it out and made the filling creamier with goat cheese. I threw in some stuffed green olives for a little saltiness and texture. But just about any cheese imaginable would be great in these, so grate up what you have and try it out. It helps to use some kind of cream cheese or goat cheese to bind it all together.
Baked Jalapeno Poppers
oven to 350
makes 16 poppers
8 large jalapeno peppers
- Halve your peppers lengthwise and remove the seeds and membranes. Set on a baking sheet.
1/2 cup finely shredded Iberico cheese
1/4 cup goat cheese
handful of stuffed green olives, chopped
juice and zest of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
- Mix the cheeses, olives, lemon juice and zest in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Fill each jalapeno half with the cheese mixture.
- Bake for about 15 minutes, and finish under the broiler to get a nice brown color.
- Serve hot with Crema Mexicana and lime wedges on the side.
One year ago today---