Jalapeño Poppers With Goat Cheese And Bacon

Classic cream cheese-filled jalapeño poppers can be found all over the place, so when I created our last Test Kitchen menu I made sure to include three new kinds. These bites incorporate goat cheese, bacon (inside, not outside) and caramelized fennel for a crunchy, tangy, smoky, sweet and spicy experience sure to appeal to even the most seasoned popper...uh, poppers.

Use the smallest spoon you have to loosen and remove the seeds from the jalapeño. I don't know anyone who keeps the seeds in, they're just too hot. Or maybe keep the seeds in one and make sure one dude who has it coming to him gets it. But that's mean to the goat cheese, bacon and fennel.

Jalapeño Poppers With Goat Cheese And Bacon
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  • 6 slices bacon
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 8 ounces goat cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • 16 jalapeños
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
  • canola or vegetable oil
  1. Heat a large non-stick or cast-iron skillet and fry the bacon until very crisp and most of the fat is rendered. 
  2. Remove bacon to a layer of paper towels and drain off all but a tablespoon of the bacon fat.
  3. Add chopped fennel to the hot bacon fat and fry until caramelized, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely.
  4. When bacon and fennel have cooled to room temperature, crumble the bacon, fold in with the fennel and softened goat cheese and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Carefully fill each hollowed-out jalapeño using a small spoon and leave at least 1/2-inch of room from the top.
  6. Dip each jalapeño in the beaten egg making sure to get some inside the top opening, then very gently roll in breadcrumbs making sure to press some inside the opening, creating a plug. Since the outside of jalapeños are smooth and slippery, the poppers may require more than one coat of breadcrumbs to really make them adhere. 
  7. Heat enough oil for deep-frying in a large pot over medium heat, about 360 degrees.
  8. Fry poppers in batches being careful not to overcrowd the pot or fryer until deep golden-brown, about 3-5 minutes.
  9. Remove from fryer, drain on paper towels and allow to cool slightly before eating.
  10. Jalapeño Cheddar Tater Tots
  11. Crunchy Coconut Shrimp
  12. Easy Avocado Fries
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