These are inspired by a popular Midwestern dip that features briny pickles and cheese. The filling is literally good enough to eat with a spoon! These salty, spicy, creamy bites are a sure hit for any game-day get-together.
Technique tips: The filling can be made in advance (it can even be served on its own as a dip) and these can be dredged in advance and fried right before the game. Always wash your hands after handling jalapeños so you don't accidentally touch your eyes (or wear gloves!). When dredging, use one hand for the dry steps and one hand for the egg step — it's the cleanest way. Don't overcrowd the pot so the temp of the oil doesn't drop too much (keep it around 365 F so they don't taste oily). Fry in a cast-iron pot since cast iron holds heat really well.
Swap option: Any cheese will do, I like a combination of melty mozzarella and funky Swiss. Use bacon instead of ham. Try cheesy crackers instead of buttery ones. You really can't screw up cheese inside a jalapeño that is then deep-fried!
Special equipment: Deep-frying thermometer.
- 6 ounces cream cheese
- 4 ounces thick-cut ham, chopped
- 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1/2 cup chopped pickles
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 dash cayenne pepper
- 1 dash paprika
- 8 fresh jalapeños, stemmed, halved lengthwise and seeded
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 5 cups buttery crackers, such as Ritz, ground in a food processor
- oil, for frying
Combine the cream cheese, ham, Swiss, mozzarella, pickles, mustard, cayenne and paprika in a medium bowl.2.
Stuff the jalapeño halves with the filling and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment.3.
Set up 3 bowls. In the first, mix together the flour with a pinch of salt and a few cracks of pepper. In the second, beat the eggs with the milk, a pinch of salt and a few cracks of pepper. In the third, place the cracker crumbs.4.
Coat the stuffed peppers first in the flour mixture, then in the egg mixture and then in the cracker crumbs.5.
Heat 2 inches of oil in a heavy-bottomed pot until a deep-frying thermometer registers 365 F.6.
Fry the stuffed jalapeños in batches until golden-brown on all sides, about 2 minutes per batch. Alternatively, you can bake the poppers in the oven at 350 F for 30 minutes.