Jalapeno Popper and Bacon Meatballs

These meatballs combine the best of jalapeno poppers and meatloaf, with chiles added to the meat mixture and cream cheese in the center of each one. Freezing the cream cheese keeps it from oozing out under the broiler. Frozen bacon will chop more evenly and its fat stays firm. For the best (non-greasy) results, start with cold ingredients and pop the meatloaf mixture in the refrigerator while chopping the bacon.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 30 min
  • Active: 22 min
  • Yield: 30 meatballs
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Ingredients

Nonstick cooking spray

2 ounces (1/4 bar) cream cheese, cut into 30 (1/4-inch) cubes and frozen

4 strips smoked bacon (about 4 ounces), cut into 1-inch pieces and frozen

2 medium jalapenos, seeded and halved

1/2 cup lightly packed parsley leaves

1 pound ground meatloaf mix (equal parts beef, pork and veal)

1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 tablespoons Sriracha

3 slices Cheddar (about 2 ounces), cut into 30 (1-inch) squares

Directions

Special equipment:
mini food processor
  1. Position the oven rack in the top third of the oven and preheat to broil. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.
  2. Pulse the jalapenos and parsley in a mini food processor until finely chopped and transfer to a medium bowl. Add the meatloaf mix, breadcrumbs, egg, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, but do not mix the ingredients yet. Place in the refrigerator to keep cold.
  3. Pulse the bacon in the mini food processor until finely chopped and add to the meat mixture. Mix together using a rubber spatula until just combined. Do not overmix.
  4. Dampen your hands with water and shape the meat mixture into 30 meatballs (each about 1 inch diameter) or use a 1-tablespoon ice cream scooper. Make an indentation in the center of each meatball with your thumb and stuff with a frozen cream cheese cube. Mold the meat around the cream cheese. Work quickly so that the meatballs stay cold. Arrange the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet.
  5. Broil until golden brown and firm, 6 to 7 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through.
  6. Meanwhile, stir the maple syrup and Sriracha together in a small bowl.
  7. Brush the top of each meatball with the syrup mixture. Broil 1 minute and 45 seconds more. Top each meatball with a Cheddar square. Broil for about 15 seconds more until melted. 

Cook’s Note

The cream cheese cubes should be frozen for at least 20 minutes.