After coming back from the wedding in Wisconsin on Sunday, we were greeted by long-awaited sunny weather in Chicago for Monday of Memorial Day Weekend. I wanted to try something new but relatively easy. I can attest that this recipe for grilled goat cheese jalapeno poppers was simple enough to pull off while particularly drunk.
Grilled Goat Cheese Jalapeno Poppers Recipe:
1. Modify the recipe: A couple weeks ago, I watched an episode of Cooking for Real where Sunny Anderson made jalapeno poppers in the oven. They weren’t poppers in the traditional sense; they weren’t breaded and weren’t deep fried. She made them in the oven. But the idea was fantastic.
She used chorizo, cream cheese, and sour cream. But I didn’t remember any of that when I was at the grocery store. So I winged it with some help from my wife.
2. Empty the peppers: slice the peppers in half and then use a small spoon to scrape out the pith and seeds. That’s where the spice is, I’m told.
3. Mix the cheese: I used 1 container of goat cheese crumbles and half a container of ricotta. That’s it. Mix. (Sunny Anderson’s recipe calls for an egg and other stuff, which I had forgotten when I was at the store and was ultimately unnecessary for the cheeses I chose.)
4. Cheese it: Spoon the cheese mixture into the jalapenos. The jalapenos are pretty hearty, so you can really jam it in.
5. Top it: I sprinkled panko breadcrumbs on top and then lightly mashed it in with my finger to make it stick.
6. Grill it: I brought these up to the roof and set them on a grill. The grills on the roof have three burners. Two of the burners were set to medium-high, the third burner was left off. I put the peppers over the third burner and closed the grill.
The grill had been going all day, so there was enough residual heat on the third burner to still give the peppers grill marks.
I don’t remember how long I grilled them for – long enough for the peppers to char, which is about the same amount of time it took me to drink two big green drinks that had way too much rum in them.
7. Eat: The ricotta doesn’t really melt, and the breadcrumbs didn’t really brown like I wanted them to. But the peppers had a nice amount of char on them and were starting to get soft.
Looks notwithstanding, they tasted pretty good. I thought the spice was just right, but I like spicy things. Everyone else thought they were too spicy. I think it’s just that the goat cheese and ricotta mixture was really timid and did little to mollify the spiciness of the jalapenos. That being said, if you like goat cheese, you would like this. And the ricotta provides a good level of body that makes the goat cheese feel almost puffy in a savory way.
The pepper itself was quite nice (spiciness aside). It had softened just the right amount, but I could still pick up the whole thing and eat it by hand without it falling limp. And the charring did really nice things, as charring tends to do for vegetables in the pepper family.
As far as the overall appearance went, I suppose I could have melted some butter and mixed the breadcrumbs in that before putting them on top of the poppers. That would likely have given me the browning that I was looking for. But that would have been a lot of tedious work that I was in no condition to perform at the time. It’s miraculous that I didn’t cut myself with the knife. And, regardless of how it looked, the crunch was a tasty texture element that thankfully kept the dish in the party food category and saved it from being some sort of yuppie deconstructed chile relleno.
The only thing I might change for next time is that I might use blue cheese (which my wife talked me out of this time) and a little bit of a monterrey jack or provolone. And I might try it in a fresno chili to make it even spicier or a cubanelle to make it milder.