A few thanksgivings back, I had PW had some Jalapeño Poppers in her current cookbook that I wanted to try. I was assembling them in my parents kitchen with my chef brother right next to me, which always puts me at a little disadvantage at showing how great of a cook I pretend to be. He graciously showed me how to use the spoon to scrape out the seeds so I didn’t have to use my poor little fingers to do it. I don’t know why, maybe it’s because I eat a lot of spicy things, but the seeds have never really bothered my skin. Now, my eyes? That’s a different story all together for another day.
The nice little poppers were a big hit that day and I’ve pretty much been making them the same way ever since - cream cheese, bacon, jalapenos.
Somewhere along the way, I started brushing the tops with a little BBQ sauce, trying to get a sweet-spicy thing going on. The BBQ sauce also makes the bacon extra crispy - because who wants soggy bacon? NOBODY IN THEIR RIGHT MIND, y'all.
But now I have this friend, and she loves to cook just like I do - and she is dang good at it. She tries new recipes and we both love a good appetizer (dips are our specialty). It so happens that she makes jalapeño poppers too. I’ve eaten hers for years as well; they were always a big hit at parties (especially with this jalapeno lover), but I had never thought to ask what was actually in them.
During Christmas time this year, Jeff requested that Julie bring her ‘famous jalapeño poppers’ on Christmas Eve (obviously they were more memorable than mine - you'll see why in a sec), but since they were coming in from out of town, she had to send us the list of her ingredients so he could go grab them for her. As I started to assemble the ingredients for her, I was surprised to learn that hers didn't include bacon - I had never thought about it before. That night they were super delicious, of course, but my mind stirred a bit.
I had already planned on making my original jalapeno poppers for Christams night dinner with at my parent's house, but what if I ended up mashing up Julie’s jalapeños with mine?
How does that saying go? Two heads are better than one?? That’s how this recipe got made. Not to brag, y'all, but my brother (remember, he's a real-deal chef), called them legit and went back for thirds.
I’m sort of reluctant to share our party food with y’all though, because chances are either Julie and I are taking something to a party, it is going to be these. We call dibs.
DOUBLE THE MEAT STUFFED JALAPENOS
Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sausage (regular, not spicy)
Cream Cheese (just swallow your pride and buy the regular kind, not the low fat)
1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 package Center Cut Bacon (the shorter pieces)
10 large jalapeños, cut in half and seeded
1/4 c BBQ Sauce
Cilantro for garnish, optional
Preheat oven to 425. Line a rimmed baking sheet with non-stick foil for quick clean up.
Brown and crumble breakfast sausage in large skillet. Drain off excess grease, return to pan and turn off heat.
Cube cream cheese and throw it in the pan with the hot sausage. Add cheddar cheese and stir until it’s all creamy and melted goodness. TIP :: After you throw the cheese in there, put the lid on and let it get toasty in there for a bit before mixing it. If you need to turn the heat on low to get it all melted, go for it!
Meanwhile, seed your jalapenos. To seed them, you want to slice the ends off and then cut them in half lengthwise. Use a spoon and scrape out the insides into a bowl or the trash can. If you like a little heat, you don't have to be super intentional with this. But if you are skeerrred of some heat, get it all out!
Lay out all of your jalapeno halves and your bacon strips. I like to make an assembly line next to the stove. Cream cheese mixture, jalapenos, bacon, baking sheet.
Now it's time to assemble! Using the same spoon, scoop some of the cream cheese mixture into the jalapenos. When they are all filled, wrap the back all the way around the jalapeno, leaving the ends on the bottom or tucking them under the pieces of bacon. Place assembled jalapenos on the baking tray.
Brush each jalapeno with some warmed BBQ sauce. (This is the secret ingredient, y'all!)
Bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes. Turn the broiler on high and broil for 5-8 minutes, until bacon is nice and crispy! Top with chopped cilantro and an extra drizzle of BBQ sauce to make them look all dressed up for a party!