10 Sep 2009 10:18 pm

Cornmeal-Crusted Jalapeño Poppers

3 dozen jalapeno peppers, washed and dried, stems left intact

2 8oz. pkgs cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
hot sauce, smoked hot paprika, chipotle chili powder (to taste – about 1/2 tsp each to start)

1 cup dry bread crumbs
1 cup corn meal (preferably coarse ground)
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten, and combined with ¼ cup water

Large (approx 1 liter) bottle peanut oil or canola oil (for frying)

For dipping sauce:
1 small container sour cream
2 to 3 tablespoons adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers
2 tsp fresh squeezed lime juice (or to  taste)

Special Equipment:
latex gloves; cake decorating tip with a wide opening; cake decorating bag or heavy plastic bag.

Wearing latex gloves, use a small knife to make a T-shaped cut into one side of each pepper, cutting along the stem end and then down once side. Carefully cut away and scrape out the seeds and white veins from inside each pepper.

Combine cream cheese, cheddar cheese, paprika, chili powder, hot sauce, and salt. Insert the cake decorating tip into the cake decorating bag, or cut a corner from a heavy plastic bag and insert the tip into the open corner. Fill the bag with the cheese mixture. Pipe the mixture into the peppers, filling them as full as possible without overflowing: the peppers should still close completely all along the T-shaped cut.

Combine the bread crumbs and corn meal and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the milk, flour, egg / water mixture, and cornmeal / breadcrumb mixture in separate plates or shallow bowels. Dip each pepper first into the milk, then dredge thoroughly in flour; dip next into the egg wash, then dredge thoroughly in the breadcrumb / cornmeal mixture, pressing to make as much of the mixture adhere as possible.

Heat the entire bottle of oil in a deep pan until the oil is shimmery and fragrant and a small drop of water spatters immediately when dropped in.  Fry peppers in batches: very carefully place breaded peppers into hot oil a few at a time to form a single uncrowded layer and fry until coating is crispy and brown, approx 7 to 9 minutes per batch. Maintain temperature of oil so that frying peppers sizzle vigorously but oil does not smoke. Drain peppers in a single layer on paper towels.

Combine sour cream, adobo sauce, lime juice and salt to taste. Serve as a dipping sauce with the fried peppers.

See photos of this recipe here.

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