Poppers!

BarredSo many ways to determine when Spring starts: Opening of baseball season, the Almanac’s last expected frost, equinox. Here at our home, right before dawn and just after dusk we hear Great Barred Owls calling to each other. They use the same rhythm and melodic shape as the first five seconds of the closing theme to The Flintstone’s. That is when I know Spring has arrived.

“OOH AH, OOH AH, OOH OOH OOH AAAAAH.” Time for some outdoor cooking!

Over the winter I got a kit for making Poppers. I rarely buy single-use tools, but I didn’t have anything else that would suit. It came with a handy corer and has holes of two different sizes to accommodate different pepper diameters. This kit does the trick. The coring tool speeds up the prep process and the stainless roaster holds the peppers upright as they cook. Simple and effective.

20140406_173807These would have been great. Should have seen the danger signs. Could have thought more deeply and prepared more diligently. The recipe concept was simple enough: Trim off the stem end of the pepper, remove the core, stuff six with cheddar cheese, six with feta, place on the roaster in the egg – indirect cooking at 325°F for 35 minutes, pull them out of the roaster and chomp. The execution, well…

Cheddar melts leaving a pool of cheesy loveliness in the pepper while the Feta does not melt as quickly and holds its shape. The color of the feta shows it has absorbed a touch of the smoke. Beautiful, but…

Here’s the problem. When buying Jalapeño peppers from the local market, there is no way to know just how hot they are. This particular batch must have come from two different sources. Most were reasonably spicy with a nice pepper taste. A few were hotter than Katy Perry in sequined cellophane.

Hot is fine. I like it spicy and am often accused of over-seasoning. Kimchi, Wasabi, Jamaican Scotch Bonnet as a seasoning – bring ’em on! These Jalapeño imposters were rip-your-eye-ball-with-pliers painful. They might have been delicious chopped fine, sauteed with onion, garlic, veggies and protein, but as a stuffed pepper…WHEW! One big bite had me jumping around the deck like a bull seal auditioning for River Dance. I was rinsing my tongue, swirling, gargling, spitting as if cold beer were Listerine the morning after a Thai Garlic Curry feast.

So, try, try again. Checking the Scoville Ratings by pre-tasting the peppers will be part of the process. If super hot, use as a chili ingredient. If tolerable, it’s popper time! I can see variations with Chorizo or Bacon Bits in the future. Maybe with Cream Cheese as a base.

We’ll be sure to update as Spring progresses.

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10 Comments

  1. Hahahahaha! Oh man! So sorry to hear it was way too hot… And glad I missed it! Funny story. Now what to do with these leftover too hot poppers!

  2. We squeezed the cheese out and ate that – even those were hot with the pepper juice infused. Whew!

    Thanks for the comment, Lynn!

  3. I with you Scott. There’s hot then there’s OMG Shoot Me Now hot. At a point it’s not fun anymore.

  4. wrap those poppers in bacon and I will be right over!! Except not for the really hot ones….

  5. Yep. The tame ones are in the same bin as the hot ones just looking all innocent…

  6. When I made something similar for a large group, not all of whom like it hot, I used sweet yellow & red peppers. You can control the heat by tossing some of your cheeses in buffalo sauce, mixing in jalapenos with the cheeses, or just plain cheese, garlic, dill for the wimps. Funny story, Scott!

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