Smoked Jalapeño 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 jalapeño 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!

Smoked Jalapeño Sausage

My wife asked if I had ever had hot links before and if I could smoke them. Well, no, I never had them before (gasp!) but after she explained to me that they’re a type of sausage with a little bit of spice and then smoked I figured “how hard could this be?” and figured I’d give it a shot. I love spicy food, and combined with smoke, how could it not be good?

So off I went to Sam’s Club and Walmart to look for some sausage. The challenge in finding the right kind of sausage to use is that my wife suffers from Celiac disease so I have to be very careful when picking out packaged meats. Most prepackaged meats have fillers which contain gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley) and she won’t be able to eat it! Not good, not good!! Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find anything that I felt comfortable enough to serve her. She knows how to read the labels way better than I do, and the last thing that I want to do is cause her to have a problem with something I cooked!

Frustrated, I went to a local butcher shop to see what was available, thinking surely they have to have fresh cuts of meat, and maybe they have something I can use that’s gluten free. There’s a place in town that’s been here for over a year now, and I have always heard great things about the place, and have even sampled some items that some friends have brought over to throw on the grill that was incredible, but I had never experienced the place on my own. Let me just say I wish I had went in sooner!!!

If you’re lucky enough to have a local butcher then you know what it’s like! G’s Meats ‘N More reminds me of the old style butcher shops from way back when, and the customer service is top-notch! I walked in, on a Friday afternoon, looking for something to make hot links out of. When I talked to the owner George and explained to him what I was trying to accomplish, he mentioned that he had some fresh ground jalapeño sausage in the back that he would be happy to put in the casing for me. I asked for two pounds and away I went!

I was already in the process of smoking two pork shoulders and decided to throw on the sausage as an appetizer. The only preparation I did to the sausage was sprinkling a little bit of chili powder on it. After that, on to the grate it went!

Look at those diced jalapeño peppers!

2 hours later, we sliced it up, and the reaction that my wife had made all of the searching I had done the day before worth it!! It was so good that she made me take a piece back to George, and I didn’t even hesitate because he had to know how good that stuff was! Thank you G’s Meats for making me look like a rock star!! You will definitely be getting more of my business, especially when we want some more smoked jalapeño sausage!