By PAUL SIDORIAK
There is something a little masochistic about a dish taking two hours to make that could feasibly be gone in 20 seconds, which is exactly what recently happened to me.
Years ago, I swore off the jalapeño. I always had enjoyed it and then one day it stopped agreeing with me. Actually, it vehemently disagreed with me.
After almost a two-decade sabbatical from the Scoville-rated scorcher, I indulged the request of some friends and took a stab at making bacon-wrapped stuffed jalapeños on the grill.
The concept was easy enough. Core and seed the jalapeño, stuff it with cream cheese, wrap it in bacon, and cook it until done. I’m not sure what kind of a culinary reaction is concocted when these ingredients get bundled and roasted together on the grill, but let’s just say I was back on the jalapeño bandwagon at first bite.
It seems that most of the time, the jalapeño flavor mellows out on the grill the way a snowbird settles into a semi-retired respite from winter on an Arizona golf course. The pepper, true to its roots, still packs a mellower punch, but the cream cheese and bacon bring a yin and yang of flavors leaving your taste buds confused with bliss.
Avid grilled jalapeño enthusiasts commonly refer to the bacon wrapped jalapeños as ABT’s or Atomic Buffalo Turds. It generally consists of the pepper stuffed with cream cheese and a single little cocktail wiener wrapped in bacon. Some people will sauce it just before service with a raspberry glaze, but mine have never lasted long enough for any post-sear schmear.
The variations can be endless and I have also experimented with ingredients to go inside the jalapeño along with the cheese. Recently, I stuffed the ABT with a shrimp instead of a Lil’ Smokie and kicked up the cream cheese with some cheddar and garlic powder.
The result was a smoky, spicy, salty bite that was complemented by the sweetness of the shrimp. It left my mouth baffled and begging for more.
Unfortunately, they are often long gone before everyone gets their fill.
Check out Paul’s other tasty grilling recipes for summer (or any season!) in his blog archive.
Paul moved to Montana in 1996 with about a dozen friends from Lyndon State College in Vermont. He is still reluctantly paying his student loans and has carved out a career working as a supplier representative for various food and beverage products.
Paul enjoys grilling after a day on the water or an afternoon in the garden, where he has been known to grow heirloom tomatoes and peppers out of spite. Often cooking for extended family and friends, he takes a whimsical approach to cooking simple, seasonal dishes, while not taking it too seriously.
Paul does all of his grilling on the Big Green Egg Grill, available in Missoula at the Axmen.
You can read more of Paul’s grilling recipes at his blog site, Montana Mise en Place.