There are many delicious versions of jalapeño poppers: Some are breaded and deep-fried, others use two kinds of cheese, and another, called armadillo eggs, calls for enrobing the cheese-stuffed peppers with ground meat and bacon. These easy-baked poppers are filled with tangy cream cheese — brightened with scallions, cilantro, garlic and lime zest — then wrapped with bacon for looks, salt and crunch. For a vegetarian variation, sprinkle the stuffed jalapeños with finely crumbled tortilla chips before baking to complement the crisp-tender chiles and the molten-cheese filling.
- Serves: 24 persons
- 12medium jalapeños (no longer than 3 inches each, about 2/3 pound total)
- 8ounces cream cheese, softened
- Scant 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
- 3scallions, whites and greens parts, trimmed and very thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup)
- 1garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1lime, zested (about 1/2 teaspoon), optional
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 12thin slices uncooked bacon (thick-cut bacon won’t cook as evenly), halved crosswise
Step 1Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil, then top with a wire rack.
Step 2Halve jalapeños lengthwise. (Do your best to halve them through their stems for added visual appeal.) Using the tip of a small spoon, scoop out and discard the seeds. Set the halved jalapeños aside.
Step 3In a medium bowl, stir together the cream cheese, cilantro, scallions, garlic and lime zest, if using; season generously with salt and pepper.
Step 4Season the inside of each halved jalapeño with salt and pepper, then fill each with about 2 teaspoons of the cream cheese mixture. (Fill until there’s a slight dome on top.) Wrap each stuffed jalapeño with 1 piece of bacon, setting one tip of bacon on top of the cream cheese filling, then wrapping the bacon under and over the popper at an angle, so the bacon covers the filling on top in two layers. (The bacon will shrink as it cooks, so you want to make sure the top of the popper is well covered.) Arrange poppers evenly on the wire rack, nestling each popper between two parallel wires to keep it upright so the cream cheese doesn’t spill during baking.
Step 5Transfer to the oven, and bake until bacon is cooked through, about 25 minutes. Broil on the rack closest to the broiler until crisp, about 2 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, then serve warm.