Stuffed jalapenos are one of those things that everyone has a different way of doing. My brother and cousins all do them somewhat differently.
There are just a few ingredients in my stuffed jalapenos: jalapenos, bacon, cream cheese and raw shrimp. Toothpicks are useful in holding everything together, but my wife doesn’t really like me using them so I try to avoid it.
At the store:
I tend to look for the cheap bacon, about 1 oz. per slice. So a 1 lb. of bacon will make 15-16 jalapenos. I don’t like to have extra bacon leftover, so the number of slices determines the number of jalapenos to get. You don’t want the bacon paper thin or too thick.
When looking at the jalapenos, I look for good sized and nicely shaped ones. Wrinkly skin indicates they are somewhat old. If it’s not too bad, I’ll still use them. Not too large and not too small. I always get a few extra just in case I counted the slices of bacon wrong or just to have a few extra jalapenos to grill or to slice up.
I get the medium or large, uncooked shrimp. Sometimes I get the peeled and de-veined shrimp if I’m short of time. Which ever way you decide, make sure it’s the raw shrimp.
It doesn’t matter what cream cheese you get. Store brand, lite or full calorie; it really doesn’t matter.
Putting them together:
One caution before we start, jalapeno oil will burn. You may want to use food safe gloves. Regardless of using gloves or not, avoid touching your eyes after touching the jalapenos. Wash your hands with soap periodically.
First wash the jalapenos.
Then slice the tops off of the jalapenos. Try to keep the tops with the bottoms because we’ll put the tops back on later. If they get mixed up, it’s not a big deal.
Next, remove the veins and seeds from the jalapenos. I’ve used slim knives, but I prefer the handy gadget in the picture. I find that it’s faster to use and I’m less likely to slice out the side of the jalapenos. The better you are at removing the veins and seeds, the less heat there will be in your stuffed jalapenos. The other thing that controls the amount of heat is the length of time you grill them. The longer they go, the milder they will be.
I put some cream cheese in first, stuff a shrimp in and top it with more cream cheese. If the shrimp doesn’t fit, then I’ll cut it to make it smaller and put it in. It’s important to have some cream cheese on the top to stick the top of the jalapenos on temporarily. If you find there is room for more shrimp, add another one or a partial one. Thinking about the shape of the shrimp and the jalapenos, I tend to put the shrimp in “tail first”.
If the top has seeds, you may want to remove them. The tops hold the cheese and shrimp in the jalapenos.
Stick the top onto the cream cheese, it will stay there while you wrap it with bacon. To start the bacon, I usually find a split in the bacon near one end and poke the stem of the top through the split. Then I wrap it around the jalapeno. By putting the stem through the bacon and wrapping it so the tail of the bacon is under the wraps, it kind-of holds it all together. See the pictures to get a better idea.
Put a tooth pick through to hold the bacon on. If you’re careful in handling them, it’s not necessary to do this. It’s just easier to use the toothpicks, but comes with the risk of someone eating the toothpick.
I usually run the grill at about 325 degrees. It’s hot enough to cook the bacon, but low enough that it will take 30-45 minutes to cook. Adjust it based on your grill. The jalapenos are done when the bacon is done. I cook the jalapenos using indirect heat, i.e. turn on the burners on one side and put the jalapenos on the other side.
You can find jalapenos racks to use. They keep the jalapenos standing up and are a fun way to serve them. The only downside of using a rack is that the bottoms gets extra done compared to the tops. The downside of laying them on their sides is that the tops tend to fall off. In that case, I would definitely use toothpicks and be extra careful when turning them.
This is what they look like right before they are served. If you like the bacon a little more done, then cook them to your desired perfection.