Thu Feb 2, 2017
So The Meatwave's month long dedication to wings is now sadly over, but I'm not ready to move off party foods quite yet, especially with the Super Bowl coming up this weekend. Right behind my favorites of wings and mozzarella sticks in the finger foods category, are jalapeño poppers. These bacon-wrapped, cream cheese-stuffed peppers have been a go-to of mine for just about any type of celebration throughout the years. I've inevitably worked through many variations as well, like wrapping with sausage instead of bacon, doing an Italian take, and planking stuffed peppadews. One version of poppers I've always been aware of, but never tried myself, are ABTs—atomic buffalo turds—which throw a cocktail frank into the fold to make a snack infinitely more enjoyable than the name lets on.
With the addition of a tiny hot dog into the mix, I was more selective in my pepper procurement. I dug threw the bin of jalapeños to find ones that seemed well sized to be able to nestle a Lit'l Smokie into. These ended up being the medium sized peppers, which I stemmed, halved, and seeded once I arrived home.
Next step was to stuff with cream cheese. I used a bit less here than normal since I needed to leave room for the franks. A couple teaspoons spread along the cut side of the pepper felt right, creating a small bed of cream cheese that held the cocktail weenie without having the cheese overflow.
I then wrapped each jalapeño with half a strip of bacon. I use to employ a toothpick here to keep the bacon in place during cooking, but I've found that not really necessary, especially if the end of the bacon strip is positioned along the bottom of the pepper—this provides added insurance that the bacon won't unravel while on the grill. Once wrapped, I gave each ABT a sprinkling of barbecue rub, not something I do with standard poppers, but it seemed appropriate here as ABTs are a ritual within the barbecue community.
To cook, I placed the peppers on the cool side of a two-zone, high heat fire and covered. You can make these in a smoker or add a chunk of wood for a more true barbecue version, but with the bacon already sufficiently smoky and no real benefit to low heat, I think hot and fast over indirect heat is the best method for these babies.
I let them cook until the bacon had browned and crisped around the edges—about 20 minutes. I finished them up with a brushing of barbecue sauce followed by another few minutes on the grill to allow the sauce to thicken and bake down.
At which point they looked like this—glistening little poppers that certainly got my mouth watering.
If you're looking for a jalapeño popper that goes to the next level, these ABTs do that and then some. You get all the fruity, spicy, cheesy, meaty, and smoky awesomeness with the additional heartiness of a juicy cocktail frank and a barbecue complexity thanks to the rub and sauce. The added spices and sweetness were a nice contrast to the pepper, while the miniature hot dog made them more filling, but also added a saltiness that started to teeter on being too much, in my opinion. While I'm a classics man—jalapeño, cream cheese, and bacon alone is perfection in my eyes—these ABTs certainly surprised and impressed, something that's not an easy feat with a party food that has become fairly ubiquitous at this point.
- Prep Time:
- 20 Minutes
- Cook Time:
- 25 Minutes
- Total Time:
- 45 Minutes
- 8-10 servings
- 12 medium jalapeños, halved and seeded
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 24 cocktail franks
- 12 strips bacon, cut in half
- 1/3 cup your favorite barbecue rub
- 2/3 cup your favorite barbecue sauce
- Spread approximately 2 teaspoons of cream cheese along inside of each halved jalapeño. Nestle a cocktail frank into each bed of cream cheese. Wrap each jalapeño with a half strip of bacon. Season wrapped jalapeños all over with barbecue rub to taste.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place jalapeños on cool side of the grill, cover, and cook until bacon is cooked and crisp, about 20 minutes. Brush each jalapeño with barbecue sauce, cover, and cook until sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes. Transfer jalapeños to a serving tray, let cool for 5 minutes, then serve immediately.