Classic cream cheese-filled jalapeño poppers can be found all over the place, so when I planned our last Test Kitchen menu I made sure to include three different spins.
This recipe substitutes ricotta for cream cheese, with some chopped pepperoncini to cut the fat of the cheese and Italian sausage and add a little extra heat. That’s why you’re eating poppers, right? Plus, sausage and ricotta are a pairing made in tailgating heaven. Use the smallest spoon you have to loosen and remove the seeds from the jalapeño. Nobody wants the popper with way too much extra heat.
- 1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
- 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from casing
- 1/4 cup pepperoncini, drained and finely chopped
- 24 jalapeños, tops and seeds removed
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups breadcrumbs
- Salt and pepper
- canola or vegetable oil, for frying
- Heat a large heavy pan over medium heat, then cook the sausage until fully browned, breaking up chunks with a wooden spoon.
- Remove sausage to a layer of paper towels using a slotted spoon and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, mix ricotta with chopped pepperoncini and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Combine cooled sausage with ricotta mixture.
- Carefully fill each hollowed-out jalapeño using a small spoon and leave at least 1/2-inch of room from the top.
- 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.
- Heat enough oil for deep-frying in a large pot over medium heat, about 360 degrees.
- Fry poppers in batches being careful not to overcrowd the pot or fryer until deep golden-brown, about 3-5 minutes.
- Remove from fryer, drain on paper towels and allow to cool slightly before eating.