We were all crying and gulping down our Watermelon Mint Sloshes as fast as we could. When we caught our breath, we kept taking more bites. It hurt so good.
Ryan had a couple of requests, and jalapeno poppers weren't one of them. Ryan doesn't even really like spicy food. But with pepper season in full swing at the local farmers market, we had those little jalapenos wedged everywhere from behind the mustard to between ciders, and they were falling out each time we opened our tiny fridge for a snack. Something had to give. So when our Nashville buddy, Ryan, came to visit us up here in Minnesota, we gave our spicy-food-shy pal jalapeno poppers. You know, like good friends.
Jalapeno poppers have a short history, and are likely a variation of chile rellenos that were bastardized in Texas to form a Tex-Mex dish that Americans can't seem to resist at Applebee's. These guys are also known as Armadillo Eggs (in reference to their stuffed similarity to Scotch Eggs) or, my personal favorite, Atomic Buffalo Turds.
Note: there is nothing healthy about these little guys. Even with our vegan & gluten-free spin, you need to bear in mind that these make for excellent surprise arrival appetizers, but likely should follow with something nutritious. Like a banana. Or sixteen glasses of water if you forgot to get all the seeds out like I did.
Perhaps give a fair warning to your guests before they bite in. And don't forget to let them cool down before your first chomp. Granted, sitting glassy eyed and sniffling around a campground picnic table is memorable, but generally when eating something that suddenly comes with a side of snot from the burning, it's at least the consolation of knowing your face is melting only in the company of good friends who judge you considerably less. And remember, you're in it together.
Beer Battered Jalapeno Poppers (V/GF)
1 batch of Vegan Moxarella (we use this recipe quite a bit, like here for our Buffalo Tempeh Dip), or 1 cup of pre-made vegan cheese of choice (or, if you want to skip the vegan, just a cup of cheese-- preferably something white and smooth like Monterey Jack or mozzarella).
10 larger whole jalapenos
1 c gluten free beer (we used Omission IPA)
1 c Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 flour (sub for white flour if you prefer not GF)
1 - 2 tsp salt
1/4 - 1/2 c coconut or canola oil (hot frying oil-- NOT olive oil)
1. Protect your hands with a pair of kitchen gloves. Then, take each jalapeno and cut lengthwise using a small pairing knife from the base of the stem top to the point of the bottom of the pepper. Then, cross widthwise near the top, fat part of the pepper to form a little cross on the pepper. Reach in where the pepper is cross hatched with the top of a peeler or your fingers and pull the seeds and veins from each pepper. For extra safety, rinse each pepper out briefly with water to get those stray seeds loose and free. Set aside. You may remove gloves at this time. Note the pictures here for extra visual help.
2. In a small bowl, combine beer, flour, and salt. Whisk together til smooth. The batter will be pretty thick.
3. Using a small, pointier spoon scoop portions of the vegan cheese into the hollowed jalapenos, approximately 1 TBSP or so each. I attempted with kitchen gloves, but it got too sticky, so with my bare hands was best. When you're satisfied with the stuffing, press down on the seams of the split pepper to hold the cheese in. (Note: especially when working with the Vegan Moxarella, the stickiness can be overwhelming, but once it's in there, there's little worry of it falling out when frying).
4. Heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet (or non-stick skillet of choice) on high (though, temper it according to your stove. Camper stoves are sort of all or nothing). Drop a small amount of batter in the pan. If it fries up quickly, you're ready for the next step.
5. Dredge each jalapeno in the batter, turning them around to cover fully, and place
immediately into the hot pan with the seam side down. About 3-5 minutes. Using tongs, turn over to fry an addition 3-5 minutes til nice and brown.
6. Remove from oil and place on an old brown bag or paper towel to drain. Let cool about 5 minutes.
We served ours with a tasty vegan ranch and fresh dill. It hardly helped with the heat, but it tasted so good. #worthit