Bacon-wrapped Jalapeño Poppers with Avocado Dip

I love bacon. I’m a firm believer that everything IS better with bacon and if I had access to Lady Gaga’s fashion team that made her meat suit a few years back, heaven only knows what my closet would smell like these days. But I love my husband even more and am not interested in getting divorced over my desire to wear pork on the sands of Miami Beach. So I decided to do the next best thing.

My bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers. Since the very first time I assembled these little gems, my friends have requested I make these every time my husband and I throw a party. They are creamy, crispy and spicy. Filled with flavorful chorizo and multiple cheeses, every bite you take is a cliffhanger that has you obsessing for more.

Despite the use of jalapeños, if seeded right, even those that aren’t fans of high heat will find joy in this dish. It is a great appetizer, extremely easy to make, and in my case, a necessary outlet for my urge to wear bacon both in and outside my home.

Bacon-wrapped Jalapeño Poppers
with Avocado Dip

(recipe serving size – 20-24 pieces, depending on the size of the jalapeños)

For the avocado dip:

1 haas avocado, ripe

1/2 cup mayonnaise

6 slices of jalapeños from a jar

1/2 tsp cracked green peppercorns

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 tsp kosher salt

juice of a lime

Combine all ingredients in a small food processor and blend until smooth. Take liberties in adjusting the amount of salt and jalapeños used.

For the jalapeño poppers:

10-12 jalapeños, cut in half length-wise and seeded

20-24 slices of thick-cut bacon, preferably smoked

8 oz ground chorizo

8 oz cream cheese, softened

4 oz manchego cheese, shredded

4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tb finely chopped parsley

3/8 tsp dried oregano

1/8 tsp kosher salt

1/4 cracked black pepper plus 1/2 tsp for after assembly

1/2 tsp of smoked paprika for after assembly

Remove the cream cheese from the refrigerator. If possible, let the cream cheese rest in its packaging for up to 1/2 hour to soften.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

In a non-stick skillet, brown the chorizo for 4-6 minutes over medium-high heat until cooked through. If you do not have a non-stick skillet, use just enough canola oil or butter to coat the bottom of the pan you are using. Place the cooked chorizo into a small bowl and let the sausage cool enough to handle. Chop the chorizo into smaller pieces with a knife. Using a fork, mix the chorizo, the softened cream cheese and the rest of the ingredients together in a bowl except for 1/2 tsp of cracked black pepper and the paprika and set aside.

When preparing the jalapeños, cut each pepper down the center with a sharp knife. Use a small spoon to scrape out the seeds and the ribs. Some force can be used to clean the jalapeños well, but be careful not to break the pepper in the process.

Bringing it all together:

Situate an oven-safe wire rack on a large baking sheet. Scoop 1- to 1 1/2 tb of filling into each of the jalapeño boats (all depending on the size of the pepper). Wrap the filled peppers with one strip of bacon apiece. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp black pepper and 1/2 tsp of paprika onto the wrapped peppers and place them onto the wire rack.

Bake the jalapeños for 20 minutes until the bacon cooks through and starts to crisp, the jalapeños soften and all of the cheese melts inside each of the boats.

Let cool for at least 3-5 minutes. Serve alongside the avocado dip while warm and enjoy!

Creative liberties:

There are so many times when I’m putting together a filling for either stuffed peppers or ravioli or shells and I miscalculate how much I need to make. Until I created this recipe, an overage of filling was a common occurrence, and I can’t tell you how happy I am it was. Here are a few liberties that will not only accommodate those that might not like spicy food but will have you “accidentally” making “too much” of this filling every time.

  • For those friends and family whose palettes are too sensitive to heat, substitute the jalapeños with small baby bell peppers. You can find packages of them sold at most grocery stores. While the kick from the jalapeño may be absent, the amount of flavor packed into each bite remains.
  • Not a fan of peppers at all? Or maybe you ran out of them? Take about 1 1/2 tb of filling and wrap a single slice of bacon around it, making sure you encase as much of the filling as possible. Roast these savory morsels just as you would the peppers, keeping an eye on them to make sure the filling isn’t spilling out everywhere. Do this and you will never look at a nugget of any kind the same again.
  • As an enormous fan of pasta, feel free to take whatever filling you have left and mix it with a noodle of your choice. Add some pasta water to thin the mixture out while still preserving the creamy consistency. Bump up the flavor by adding more garlic and fresh parsley, or take the dish into a slightly different direction with cilantro. Additions like sliced grape tomatoes or sautéed zucchini with a little lemon zest brighten up the dish, bringing it far from its origins without losing its ties to them completely.

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