Saturday, April 14, 2012

Grilled Stuffed Jalapenos for Health and Happiness

Ok, so maybe the health part is a stretch, but the happiness part is spot on.

If you use fat free cream cheese instead of the regular type you can reduce the fat significantly and then the nutrition is really not at all bad and far better than a bag of Cheetos. Jalapenos are actually very good source of vitamin A and a few other things which makes this is a most mindful treat.

Grilled Stuffed Jalapenos can be served as an appetizer or as a side dish.

What to assemble:

10 large jalapenos, see directions below for prep
1 (12 oz) package cream cheese, brought to room temperature so it is soft (the spreadable version is fine)
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
1 T sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped into very small bits
1 T cilantro, chopped very fine (optional, but tasty and yes, you can use dried)
8 strips thick applewood smoked bacon
a number of wooden toothpicks (at least 10-12) soaked in water
Coals, lighter fluid, and a grill

Before messing with the jalapenos, mix the cream cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, and cilantro in a small bowl. Then just let the bowl sit on the counter so it stays soft. It will take about a good heaping tablespoon for each jalapeno. If yours peppers are very large, you can always buy a larger package of cream cheese and increase the other ingredients a bit. Most recipes are flexible in this way, so play with it.

How to prep the jalapenos:

It's best not to cut the peppers totally in half as it only makes them more difficult to skewer with the toothpicks and they don't look as pretty. Less of the filling squirts out onto the grill during cookery if you leave the stem part on - if you lose a stem or two just cover that part with more bacon.

I made two slits that made a T shape only on the "top" of the jalapeno - do not cut all the way through. The horizontal top of the T went across the pepper just under the stem cap. Then the vertical line of the T went from the center of the horizontal cut all the way down to the end of the pepper. You can see how that looks in the picture above.

Gently pull apart the cut as if you were opening a shirt. Scoop out the membranes and seeds and consign to the compost bin.

Once all the jalapenos are ready, stuff them all with the cream cheese mixture. This is a very messy job and rather fun.

Remove the toothpicks from the water. Gently wrap each jalapeno in bacon - make sure to cover the T shaped cut (you can always add a bit more bacon and another toothpick if necessary). Secure the bacon with the soaked toothpicks.

You can prepare them to this point and refrigerate them until it is time to grill. Let them set on the counter at least a half an hour or more if you refrigerate them so the inside is not too cool as the outside will cook quickly.

Time to grill!:

Grill the jalapenos over hot coals turning frequently until the bacon is well charred. How long will depend on the thickness and meatiness of your bacon and the heat of your coals. Ours took about 12 minutes.

Do get good bacon. If you need to, cut off some of the fat. Fortunately, when bacon is grilled, the fat just drips off and mostly all that remains surrounding the jalapeno is the meaty part.

These are best served on small plates with a knife and fork unless your peppers were smallish - then you can just treat them as finger food and bite them off near the stem. Mine were a good four inches long not counting the stems and that would be rather much to just eat like a shrimp.

Enjoy these savory spicy treats as mindfully as possible with good friends, family, and a nice glass of a hearty red Zinfandel - Brazen makes a good one that is moderately priced and a perfect fit with this dish.


  1. I partially precook the bacon and sometimes parboil the jalepenos if they are especially spicy. I sometimes also use chopped sauteed green onion and chopped precooked shrimp or crabmeat in my filling (usually at Christmas or some other special occasion. My family loves these!

  2. they are great! Parboiling is a great tip - but I only do it if the pepper walls are thick. There are so many ways to change them up ... I didn't think about Christmas. A perfect touch of green. :D

  3. These do sound amazingly good! Thanks!