As commonplace as a toothpick at your local barbecue joint, the stuffed jalapeno pepper quickly is becoming the side dish of choice among Texas barbecue fans.
As with any hot culinary trend, there are imposters that could sully the name of stuffed, fried peppers. At many local fast food franchises and national chains, diners can order a stuffed pepper, usually called a popper. More often than not, the poppers are nothing more than sterilized jalapeños, scraped clean of heat and taste, stuffed with processed cheese, and dipped in an indifferent batter, before heading for the deep fat.
If this is what you are visualizing when thinking of a stuffed pepper, you need to be re-educated. Texomaland has not one, but several specialists who could battle it out for the title “Prince of Peppers.”
When you tackle a stuffed pepper at one of Texoma’s barbecue joints, shacks or stands, you will be getting a large, pickled jalapeño, full of flavor and spice, stuffed with sausage, usually of a spicy variety, sometimes a little cheese, double-dipped in batter and then fried GB&D. That’s Golden Brown and Delicious for those unfamiliar with the term.
If you would like to try your hand at making your own, here is a recipe. Try it if you dare, but the management assumes no responsibility if you jack up the Scoville Scale* beyond the tolerable range.
Sausage stuffed jalapeño peppers
1/2 lb Monterey jack cheese, shredded
1/2 lb sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 lb spicy pork sausage (like J.C. Potter’s), crumbled
1 1/2 cups prepared Bisquick batter (1 ½ cup Bisquick plus milk to make thick batter
1 cup bread crumbs
20 whole, canned pickled jalapeño peppers
Cut a slit in the pepper lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and veins. Lightly brown the sausage, and then mix with the cheese. Stuff each pepper with the cheese-sausage mixture. Dip the pepper in the Bisquick batter, covering the pepper well. Dip the stuffed pepper in beaten egg and roll in bread crumbs. Chill in the refrigerator or freezer until coating sets. Fill a small Dutch oven or large sauce pan about half full of oil, heat to frying temperature, 350 to 375 degrees, and ease the pepper into the oil. Fry until golden brown. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on cooling rack set over paper towels.
Do not overfill the cooking vessel, as the oil will expand on heating. Fry peppers in small batches, so as not to reduce the temperature of the oil.
*Scoville Scale is the measure used to determine the amount of capsaicin, the “heat” in foods, in Scoville Heat Units (SHU). At the bottom of the scale is the sweet bell pepper, which rates zero. At the top, well you don’t want to go there, is the Naga Jolokia, an Indian pepper with a rating of 855,000 to 1,050,000. Jalapeños rate 2,500 to 8,000 SHU.