Cornbread-stuffed Jalapeño Poppers
Back at a Meatwave in 2013, a friend of mine's contribution to the menu were cornbread-stuffed jalapeño poppers. When she first RSVP'd saying that was what she'd be making, I had a hard time even envisioning how that would even work, but then once she brought them and I tried one out, I totally got it and said these were something I needed to bring to my site because they were equally unique and delicious. Fast forward ten years and I still hadn't developed a recipe for them and I more-or-less forgot about doing so, but then when I tried out cornbread-stuffed mushrooms, my memory was jogged, leading me to finally get on these super tasty poppers.
What confounded me when I first heard about this popper variation was envisioning how a cornbread filling actually worked. It wasn't until I saw them that I got it and that became one of those moments where you slap yourself for being so stupid because I felt like I was thinking about everything except what it actually was. Basically the filling was akin to a cornbread stuffing I make for Thanksgiving where dried cornbread is mixed with extra moisture and eggs.
Of course there's more seasonings to it, and when I developed this recipe I took inspiration from that Thanksgiving stuffing I'm so familiar with to craft mine, but adjusted the seasonings to be better suited for a jalapeño popper filling. I started by keeping the onion and garlic, both of which got sautéed before being added the cornbread mixture.
From there, I added cheddar cheese and scallions into the mix, while doing away with the more holiday-appropriated seasonings of sage, thyme, and celery. I used half-and-half to bump up the moisture level and then eggs worked as a binder to keep the stuffing held together during, and after, baking.
With the filling complete, I mounded that cornbread mixture into jalapeños that had been stemmed, halved, and deseeded. For good measure, I topped the cornbread with a little extra cheddar cheese before placing all the jalapeños on the cool side of a two-zone fire. After covering the grill, it was just a waiting game until they were cooked to my desired doneness.
I was looking for a combination of three things—semi-soft jalapeños, warmed and solid filling, and browning on the cheese. For me, the poppers took about 20 minutes to reach this state using a high heat fire, but it could take shorter or longer for you depending on your exact set-up, so it's good practice to start checking them every few minutes after about 15 minutes of cooking.
While this particular jalapeño popper wasn't the most photogenic I've made, they're up there with some of my favorite to consume. Sweet cornbread and spicy jalapeños tend to always be a good match up, but the way they work together in this dish is leveled-up. It's the pretty equal ratio of pepper to cornbread that works so great here, with the jalapeño having a strong presence and whose fruity heat is tempered and well contrasted by the sweet cornbread filling. The sharp bites of cheddar cheese also stood out, being the primary additive accomplishing a greater depth, with the onions, garlic, and scallions all being a bit more subdued. I'll forever be grateful for my friend bringing this to a Meatwave, because they went on the inspire a number of cornbread-stuffed dishes over the years, although the best of the lot might always be these tasty little poppers.
Cornbread-stuffed Jalapeño Poppers
- Yield 5-6 servings
- Prep 20 Minutes
- Cook 20 Minutes
- Total 40 Minutes
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion (about 1/2 a medium onion)
- 2 teaspoon minced garlic (about 2 medium cloves)
- 3 cups of crumbled cornbread
- 2/3 cup half-and-half
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 6 oz grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
- 1/4 cup finely sliced scallions (about 2 scallions)
- 10 large jalapeños, halved and seeded
- Melt butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat until foaming subsides. Add in onion and jalapeños and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, but not browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl.
- Add cornbread, half-and-half, egg, about 2/3 of the cheddar cheese, and scallions into bowl. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, gently fold mixture until ingredients are well distributed and liquid has been absorbed into bread. Season stuffing mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
- Fill each halved jalapeño with cream cheese mixture. Top each jalapeño with remaining cheddar cheese.
- 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 jalaepños have softened, filling is warmed through, and cheese has melted, about 20 minutes. Transfer jalapeños to a serving tray, garnish with chives, and serve immediately.