Fried Kicked Up Jalapeno Poppers
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 12 fresh large jalapeno peppers
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup Monterey Jack, grated
- 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1/4 teaspoon Essence, plus 1/4 teaspoon, recipe follows
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour plus 3 tablespoons, divided
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
In a deep-fryer or heavy-bottomed stock pot add enough oil to come 1/3 of the way up the sides of the pan. Heat oil to 370 degrees F over medium heat.
Cut a slit lengthwise in each pepper down 1 side to create a pocket. Leave stem intact and remove seeds if desired.
Combine cream cheese, Monterey Jack, crumbled bacon, and Essence. Place mixture in a zip-top plastic bag or large piping bag. (If using a zip-top plastic bag, cut and remove 1 corner of the bag, large enough so that the bacon will squeeze through.) Squeeze mixture to the bottom of the bag and fill each pepper with as much of the cream cheese mixture as will fit. Press slit edges of the pepper together to seal.
In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup flour, milk and egg. Place remaining 3 tablespoons flour, panko crumbs, and 1/2 teaspoon of Essence in a shallow bowl or plate, and stir to combine.
Working in batches, dip stuffed jalapenos into the milk batter and then roll in the panko mixture, pressing to coat.
Working in batches, if necessary, gently place jalapenos in preheated oil and fry until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the oil and drain on a paper-towel lined plate. Cool slightly before serving, as the cheese is extremely hot.
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