My favorite BBQ recipe is grilled jalapeņo poppers for two reasons. First off, they are, of course, delicious, combining a flavor as good as their deep-fried counterparts but yet far less guilt afterwards. Secondly, the preparation involved doubles as a great practical joke and I am always looking for an extra laugh. I discovered this the hard way, unintentionally victimizing myself first.
After you slice open your pile of peppers, you need to remove the seeds and rinse the inside of each one. I unknowingly did this with my thumb over the kitchen sink and learned first hand why they call it "pepper spray." For the following week after making the poppers, regardless of how many times I scrubbed my hand or what soap I tried to use, every few hours my thumb would suddenly fire up as if it was engulfed in heat. Not unbearable pain mind you, but certainly an uncomfortable reminder of the past weekend's grilling. It would last for two to three minutes and then dissipate. I couldn't help but laugh, amazed at the odd event and how the effects of cleaning such a simple vegetable could last for days.
I did not share the happening with my younger brother, who lived with me at the time; I knew he had enjoyed the poppers as much as I and would certainly be up for another serving the coming weekend. It was easy enough to say, "hey, would you mind cleaning the seeds from the jalapeņos while I get the grill ready?" He of course jumped on the opportunity to assist in making the delicious snacks and later in the week found himself trying to install a wood-burning stove with a glowing right thumb. His best friend was the third victim of my popper prank the following weekend and many more have joined the list since. The dual purpose delicacies are addictive on both fronts for me and I have learned to utilize a zip-lock bag to protect my thumb when I find myself in the company of my more "seasoned" friends and family.
Grilled jalapeņo poppers
1 dozen whole jalapeņo peppers
1 package cream cheese
1 package bacon
2 dozen toothpicks
Rinse thoroughly each pepper before slicing it in half and rinsing the interior, discarding the seeds.
Spoon cream cheese into each pepper until full, attempt to avoid over-filling as much as possible.
Wrap each cream filled pepper with a half of a slice of raw bacon, some larger peppers may require a whole slice but usually half is more than enough. Stab a toothpick through the bacon and pepper, penetrating the bacon on both sides of the pepper to secure it in place.
Place the popper by the toothpick onto a preheated grill, cream cheese side up and monitor closely until bacon is cooked thoroughly.
Remove from heat, let cool and enjoy.