Food & Drink | July 19, 2022 6:34 am

Here’s a Jalapeño Poppers Recipe That’ll Make Your Cardiologist Happy

This recipe from Liz Solomon Dwyer of King David Tacos is healthy — but not too healthy

Jalapeño poppers filled with pimento cheese are a healthier option.
Jalapeño poppers should melt in your mouth, not in your hand.
King David Tacos

Whether breaded and stuffed with cheese or deep-fried and wrapped in meat and bacon, each variety of jalapeño popper that’s served at a Super Bowl party or sports bar traces its stems back to 1993 when Anchor Food Products, a Wisconsin-based manufacturer of processed snack foods under the McCain Foods umbrella, registered a trademark for the exclusive use of the phrase “jalapeño poppers” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office.

Though Anchor Food no longer owns the trademark after failing to renew it in the ’90s, the company created numerous variations of the popper, which may have been inspired by Mexican chiles rellenos, and still sells a number of frozen versions today.

When Austin native Liz Solomon Dwyer, the founder of NYC-based King David Tacos (which can be found at stand-alone locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan as well as at various retailer partners throughout the city) had her first experience with a popper, it wasn’t one of Anchor’s…it was one of Sonic’s.

“Remember when you get a car and your friends start going to places after high school? We went to Sonic to get Route 44 Strawberry Limeade and jalapeño poppers,” Dwyer tells InsideHook. “They’re just great. Love spicy, love cheese. It’s all the things in one. They’re one of my favorite go-tos and I will likely order them if they’re on a menu. But they’re usually Sonic-level which is delicious, but also bad.”

Poppers weren’t originally on Dwyer’s menu at KDT and when she decided to create a version and put them on, she wanted her variation to be satisfying and delicious, but not as calorie-rich and artery-clogging as most versions. So, as perhaps Anchor did prior to the trademarking process, she turned her attention south to chiles rellenos.

KDT's Pimento Cheese-stuffed Jalapeño Popper
Even a healthy jalapeño popper is still a jalapeño popper.
King David Tacos

“A chile relleno is a stuffed poblano pepper, sometimes with cheese, sometimes with meat and many times both,” Dwyer says. “In New York, it’s usually a poblano pepper battered and fried then stuffed with cheese. They’re limp and look soggy. Good chile rellenos are not fried. It helps the poblano keep its structure and you can get out of there without feeling like it was way too heavy and carb-loaded. That was kind of the inspiration.”

That inspiration led Dwyer and her team to come up with a popper that’s stuffed with a version of pimento cheese that’s easy to whip up and also doesn’t compete with the queso on KDT’s menu.

“You’re not just eating the regular nacho cheese you’d get with a sports bar jalapeño popper. It’s not fried and there’s no batter. It’s straight to the cheese and the jalapeño, which are what everybody wants anyway,” Dwyer says. “I mean, don’t be mistaken. There’s melted pimento, which is cheese and mayonnaise, but it’s not that much. You get a little bit of indulgence, but it’s also reasonably healthy. You can eat these and feel good about it.”

And now you can make ’em.

Poblano-Pimento Cheese Jalapeño Poppers


Ingredients

  • 3 fresh poblano peppers, stems removed, de-seeded and small diced
  • 1.5 lb. of thick-shredded cheddar/Monterey jack blend (optional full cheddar)
  • 1 cup mayo (Hellman’s or similar)
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 – 3 tsp. Tabasco (depends on your spice level, can sub other vinegar-based hot sauce)
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional for garnish: sliced scallions and chopped cilantro 
  • As many jalapeños as desired. Each jalapeño can be used to make two poppers.

Directions

  1. To make the poblano-pimento cheese (PPC) filling, combine everything in a bowl
  2. Mix using a stand mixer or just a strong arm and a sturdy spoon
  3. For the poppers, preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  4. Slice fresh jalapeños lengthwise, remove seeds and ribs but keep stems on
  5. Lay out jalapeño halves on a parchment-lined sheet tray, open side up, and use a spoon to fill each half with the PPC without overstuffing
  6. Bake for 10 min or until filling is melted and slightly crispy around the edges
  7. Jalapeños are meant to be cooked “al-dente” and should still be stiff enough to pick up and eat
  8. Serve with a small dollop of sour cream on each and sprinkle with cilantro and/or scallions