Creamy ingredients are a delicious way to rein in chile peppers’ heat. Here, we use a filling of cream cheese and cheddar in a classic finger food, and serve it alongside a savory ranch dressing—for even more cool factor. See below for our favorite ranch recipe!
Makes: 12 poppers
Cook Time: 25-35 minutes
6 oz cream cheese, softened
2 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp smoked paprika
Your favorite hot sauce
6 three-inch-long jalapeño peppers, halved lengthwise, ribs and seeds removed
½ cup tempura batter
½ cup club soda
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
1 quart canola or vegetable oil
Freshly cracked black pepper
Make the Filling: In a medium bowl, thoroughly combine the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, onion powder, garlic powder, and smoked paprika. Stir in the hot sauce to taste. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Stuff the Peppers: Season the cavity of each halved pepper with salt and pepper. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the filling into each seasoned cavity (it should fill the cavity and create a small, rounded mound).
Bread the Peppers: In a bowl, combine the tempura batter and club soda; whisk until smooth. Place the flour and breadcrumbs on 2 separate plates. Working 1 piece at a time, thoroughly coat the stuffed peppers in the flour, then in the tempura batter mixture, then in the breadcrumbs (pressing to adhere). Transfer to a plate. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes to set.
Fry the Peppers: In a large, high-sided pan (or cast-iron skillet), heat ½ inch of the oil on medium-high until hot. Once hot enough that a pinch of flour sizzles immediately when added to the pan, working in batches, add the breaded peppers. Cook 45 seconds to 1 minute per side, or until golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and immediately season with salt. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Makes: ½ cup dressing
¼ cup crème fraîche or sour cream
2 tablespoons buttermilk
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon dried chives
¼ teaspoon dried parsley flakes
¼ teaspoon celery seeds
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.