This Labor Day weekend, my family had a celebration at my parent’s home. We had great picnic fare; BBQ ribs, cole slaw, corn on the cob, watermelon, and s’mores; but what I would like to highlight is the smoked jalapeños my father made. He has made them before and I have always thought the process would make a good blog entry so here I will share, step by step, how to make these spicy yet savory appetizers.
First off, you will need a specialized tool called a jalapeños cooker if you plan on making these stuffed jalapeños on the grill. Basically it is just a bent piece of stainless steal with holes in it for the jalapeños. I bought mine at a Gander Mountain as a Christmas gift for my father, but you can buy them online. Amazon has a few varieties including a Black Gold brand cooker for only $12. I have a Black Gold brand cooker (only it is stainless steel) but there is also a more expensive and larger version called a Happy Jalapeño Grill also available on Amazon. It was about 2 weeks before Christmas and I had no gift for my father. He loves to grill everything and really enjoys spicy foods (including peppers) so I bought him this as a last resort gift. This simple hunk of metal has been used countless times since then. He loves the darn thing, so this blog is for my Dad. You will see his hands throughout the pictures as I show you how it’s all done.
The second piece of equipment is optional, but really adds to the flavor of the jalapeños. My dad always smokes whatever food he can, so he often has various types of smoking chips under his grill. This batch of jalapeños got this smoking treatment and it really made all the difference. You can buy smoker boxes for your grill online. Amazon has them (as well as the chips) including a Charcoal Companion Smoker Box. Do a quick search for Hickory or Applewood smoking chips when you buy the box. You may get a good deal.
The ingredients are simple and can range quite a lot. Basically what you need is:
• 21 Jalapeño peppers
• Several types of cheese (cream cheese, jalapeño jack, cheddar, monteray jack, smoked gouda, whatever you want really)
• Salami, sausage, or other cooked meats if you like
• Anything else you want to shove in a jalapeño
It really is that simple.
Note: The following technique uses hard salami, smoked gouda, pepperoni cheese, and jalapeño cheese.
Now, I will go step by step and show you how to make these smoked stuffed jalapeños.
① Prepare the jalapeños buy washing them off, removing their tops, and scooping out their innards. I would like you all to note the weird rubber-glove my dad is wearing. The oil found in a jalapeño pepper can burn your skin, especially if you get it in cuts; under your nails; or in sensitive areas like your nose, eyes, or lips, so wear a glove if you are handling them. We only had large sized rubber gloves in my house, so my dad was resourceful and cut it so it fit his hand. Also, I would like to point out the tool he is using to scrape out the insides. It is actually a seafood pick. You can buy these seafood picks on Amazon, of course, or pick them up in some grocery stores. The pick makes it easy to scoop out the seeds at the bottom, but you can use a knife, or small spoon.
② While cleaning out the peppers, run some water in the opening to wash out all the seeds. These seeds are what will make the peppers really hot, so to minimize the burn, be sure to remove them all.
③ This is an extra unnecessary step, but my father wanted me to include it. He is very anal about lining up the peppers in rows with the smallest, then the medium, and then the big/fat peppers. He insists it makes it all easier in the end, but who knows.
④ Next, you cut up your cheeses and meats so that they will fit neatly into the peppers. It is easiest to simply slice them in long thin rectangular slices so you can put as many or as few as will fit in each pepper. Here we see the 3 cheese and slices of hard salami.
⑤ Next, take the cheeses and meats and stuff them into the peppers. Dad likes to do one cheese per row to keep them in some sort of order (anal, again) but you can make it a sort of Russian Roulette if you wish.
⑥ Once you have all the peppers stuffed, use a wooden skewer to slay the peppers in a long row. This will keep them all from slipping through the holes if they shrivel up a lot. It also keeps them from slouching. Ideally, you should use wooden skewers that have been soaked in water to reduce the chances of catching fire, but you can use dry ones if you forget to soak them. However, refrain from using metal skewers because the peppers tend to “melt” right off them. Also, the wooden scewers help to keep the cheeses from pooling in the bottom while leaving the top half empty.
⑦ It is now time to prepare the grill. If you are smoking the peppers, add your chips (also wet, to slow their burning, not necessary though) to the smoker box. Fire up the grill and let the temperature reach 250ºF.
⑧ Now that the temperature is 250ºF, set the peppers on the grill and close it. Leave them alone for an hour. When you go get them, you will be amazed at the taste, smell, and look of these smoked peppers. You will not be disappointed.
Everytime we have a get-together at my parents house, I always have my dad make his stuffed jalapeños. They are always a hit. I am thinking about buying him another jalapeño rack next Christmas, since we run out of these peppers so quickly! Check out the results below. I wish you could smell them.
However, a word of caution. Some peppers will be cheesy, gooey, and sweet, while others may be hotter than heck-fire. If you are nervous about hot stuff, try a small bite of one first before gulping the whole pepper. Don’t forget to comment if you like it! Happy cooking!