Thursday, June 14, 2012

Oaxaca Stuffed, Bacon Wrapped Grilled Jalapeno Peppers

I have learned that a couple of my friends have similar recipes to this, but I learned this appetizer from watching Food Network's "Mexican Made Easy", featuring the incredible Chef Marcela Valladolid.  It was easy, straight-forward and absolutely delicious!  I wanted to share it with you, my gentle readers!  Enjoy!

This recipe could not be simpler.  The ingredients are:

1 package of bacon (one per pepper, but extras are really good to nibble on!)
6 - 8 good-sized Jalapeno Peppers
1 1/4 cup of grated Oaxaca Cheese  (You may not need that much, but I enjoyed snacking)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Oil or non-stick cooking spray

What you will need in the kitchen:

1 pair of tongs         1 cutting board
2 large plates           1 sharp paring knife
1 grill plate or barbeque        1 medium sized bowl and one small bowl
1 tea spoon or small spoon (to scoop out seeds and ribs)

What to do:
Spray the grill plate (or bbq grill) with non-stick cooking spray.  Heat the grill over medium-high heat.  Wash the peppers and dry them.  When the grill is very hot, place the peppers on the grill.  Allow them crisp up, and start to blacken.  This may take about ten or more minutes, until all sides of the peppers have grill  marks and begin to soften.  Meanwhile, grate or process the cheese and place in a bowl. Rub the dried oregano between the palms of your hands over the cheese to crush the leaves. (I added a little cumin seeds to the mixture, too). Combine the mixture with your hands.  Next, remove the peppers to a plate.  One thing I learned: Let Them Cool Down before handling!  Not long, but enough to handle them.  Using the paring knife, make a T slit from just below the stem to the tip, and cut across, carefully, to form the T.  Open the pepper like a book.  Using either the knife or the tea spoon, scoop out the seeds and the ribs.  Place the seeds and ribs in the small bowl for easy discarding.

Using your hands or the tea spoon (using your hands is easier, I learned), add some cheese to the pepper.  I kept remembering what Chef Marcela told us on her show: "Don't be afraid to over stuff the pepper."   She had said, basically, that the when the cheese melts, the volume within the pepper lessens and the cheese escaping can be hindered by the bacon as it reduces and constricts due to rendering its fat.  That's the long version, my version.  She stated it much simpler.

Once you have stuffed the jalapeno, take a slice of bacon, place it at the T, holding it with your thumb, and wrap it tightly.  Place the bacon wrapped pepper on the grill plate bacon strip end first, so it sticks together as it cooks.  When the bacon has crisped on all sides, remove and allow it to rest.

Things I learned:  Do not worry about your technique.  I took me five out of eight attempts to perfect my tightly wrapping technique.  Once you get it down, you're done, so it doesn't really matter.  In addition, Don't try to eat one right off the grill.  HOT!  Let them rest for a few minutes before chowing down.  Really, the cheese and pepper itself retain the heat for a bit, but the bacon doesn't.

I hope you enjoy this recipe.  It'd be GREAT if you shared YOUR recipe with us, too!