Back when Crayton and I were still dating, when I’d just gotten the cooking bug, I proposed (not that kind of proposal) that I whip up a Sunday brunch. We could have eggs. And cajeta pound cake. And these little things I’d just read about in a newspaper article: bacon-wrapped jalapeños stuffed with cream cheese.
This was circa 2002, I believe. Or maybe 2003. All the years have started to run together lately…
In any case, my friend Michelle came over to be my cooking co-pilot, and we cut and seeded jalapeños, and took turns stirring the liquid cement-like pound cake batter. (This is when I realized the handiness of electric mixers.) Everyone loved it all — but it was the jalapeños that captured everyone’s heart. They were smoky, and creamy, and just a wee bit spicy. You could eat four before you even know what you were doing. It was a jalapeño hypnotic state.
Since that day, I’ve made the jalapeños pretty much every year, usually at manly inspired events such as The Super Bowl. On Saturday, I made them for So Drunk in the August Sun Day, which is a holiday Crayton and his friends came up to honor sitting outside and drinking. We popped the jalapeños on the grill and they were a huge hit.
Seriously, if you want a go-to appetizer — and you have friends who are not vegetarians — this is pretty much it. On Sunday we also threw ’em in tortillas, because we live in Mexico and we roll like that. It was quite good.
Bacon-wrapped jalapeños stuffed with cream cheese
Serves about six to eight as an appetizer
1 package cream cheese, softened
Two packages bacon of your choice (I got turkey bacon and regular bacon, just to make myself feel the teensiest bit better about ingesting cream cheese and animal fat in one sitting)
1 hefty handful of cilantro, or chives, or herb of your choice, chopped
Preheat oven to 425F, or fire up the grill. Place tin foil on a baking sheet, or spray one with non-stick cooking spray. Cut your jalapeños in half lengthwise, being careful to keep the stems intact. Scoop out the stems and membranes either with a little spoon — in Mexico they sell little spoons — or a knife. Set all your newly empty jalapeño boats to the side. In a medium bowl, add cream cheese and cilantro, and stir until combined. Using a spoon or butter knife, fill each jalapeños with the cream cheese mixture, and set on the baking sheet about three inches apart. (It helps to have an assembly line here.) Then wrap each jalapeño in a strip of bacon.
They sell monstrous jalapeños here, so I ended up using one piece of bacon per chili. But you may need to cut the bacon in half for best results.
Once the peppers are sufficiently wrapped, place them in the oven until sufficiently crispy. If you grill them, you’ll need to turn them over. Don’t worry, the cream cheese won’t fall out. When they’re done, place them in a tortilla and eat like a taco.