Smoked JalapeƱo Poppers

A few weeks ago my wife and I were invited over to our friends’ place for dinner. We were asked to bring a side so we thought a bit and that’s when my wife suggested smoking some jalapeno poppers. It didn’t take me half a second to agree! But I didn’t want to get premade poppers and smoke them, I wanted the challenge of making them on my own so I set out one Saturday afternoon on a mission!

Upon suggestions from my wife (who is an amazing cook herself!) I decided that I would cook up some pork sausage and mix it with the cream cheese. Not content with just doing that, I added some seasonings to the cream cheese consisting of my pork shoulder rub, onion powder, and garlic powder and mixed it all up.

You can’t have a jalapeƱo popper without bacon! My wife suggested that I pre-cook the bacon a bit until it was flimsy, which I did, with the thought that it would help the bacon get crispy when being smoked. That turned out to be a great idea, but more on that in a bit.

I then cleaned up some fresh jalapeno peppers, cleaned out the seeds, and gave them a good rinse in cold water. I was worried that it would take a considerable amount of time for this process but using a spoon to clean out the insides of the peppers made life a lot easier!

What did take a quite a bit of time, however, was assembling the peppers, bacon, and cream cheese! I decided to leave the peppers cut in half and add a spoonful of cream cheese mix and then wrap them in bacon. Looking back, I should have cooked more bacon because well, you can never have enough bacon! I placed the poppers in a disposable pan which would go on the smoker.

Normally, I wouldn’t hesitate using the smoker but I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to get the bacon to the desired crispness that I was wanting so I decided to use my grill for the process. I turned the grill up to high until until it was up to 600 degrees. While I waited, I made a pocket out of aluminum foil and placed a couple of handfuls of cherrywood pellets in it. I then put the pocket of pellets directly on one of the burners and turned the other 3 off. I placed the pan of poppers in the grill for 15 minutes. The pocket of pellets was producing the perfect amount of smoke, but when I checked on the poppers I could tell the bacon wasn’t going to get crisp. I decided to turn on the other 3 burners again at a medium flame and let them cook for another 10 minutes. Finally, I turned all 4 burners to high for the final 5 minutes which resulted in the bacon getting crisp without the cream cheese melting and running out of the jalapenos.

We arrived at our friends’ place for dinner and they were an immediate hit! I, personally, think they’re the best poppers I have ever had, and my wife agreed! Our friends were impressed and asked “is that sausage in the cream cheese? That’s unexpected but awesome! This is a keeper! You’re going to have to bring these over all the time!” When people love my cooking and ask for the recipe I know that I did it right, and that is why I love cooking!

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