“Barbecue may not be the road to world peace but it’s a start.” – Anthony Bourdain
Greetings and welcome back to Uncle Tom’s red-draped corner. For those who might be familiar with my writings I think I just heard a collective “omigod, is he gonna do that again?”. And the short answer would be “yes”. For those NOT familiar with my writings I’m not talkin’ about Russia, North Korea or China. Nor am I talkin’ about Republicans or Conservatives or the current name de jour. I’m talkin’ about the Nebraska Cornhuskers. There it is…in bold print. I’m outa the closet. Go Big Red.
To paraphrase Paul Revere “The Reds are coming! The Reds are coming!” The Red Horde from that vast wasteland to the north and east will be invading Boulder on September 7th with bloodlust in their eyes and evil intent in their cold, black hearts. They’re coming with the sole intention of wreaking some redemption for last year and decimating the Buffalo herd that roams the grassland of Folsom Field. And I’ll be there…for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and…oh, wait, that was something else. Never mind. But, as luck (and grit and perseverance) would have it, none of it worked out that way and the Red Horde was left to retreat back to the Heartland in humiliation, despair and defeat. I’ll be in mourning until the next millennia.
Since this is supposed to be about barbecue I’ll admit that Folsom field and the Buffs are largely responsible for getting me into the whole barbecue thing. Many moons ago I had season tickets for Colorado football purchased solely for the reason of assuring me of a seat every other year for the CU/NU game. Then I got started tailgating and what had previously been a passing interest grew into something much larger and far more consuming. My spousal unit would be more than happy to confirm every word of it to this point.
Now that the season is upon us only the most socially deprived or members of Antifb (anti-football…not to be confuse with Antifa which is a different group entirely) will likely be excluded from participating in a tailgating or watch party and might want to contribute some sort snacking munchies…only of the most health-minded, of course.
When I went to the Alamosa contest a few weeks ago there was a vendor selling pickled jalapenos that should have come with a warning label suggesting that it just might warm the cockles of your heart and/or other anatomical parts. Costco carries Hatch Green Chile Cheddar Dip by Blue Moose of Boulder. And lastly, Town House Flip Sides Thins pretzel crackers at King Soopers. 1 + a schmear of 2 on 3 = wow, that’s pretty darned good!
Speaking of appetizers and jalapenos here are a few stuffed jalapeno recipes from my tailgating cook book:
I misplaced my recipe for firecrackers so I Googled it. It would seem there are more recipes than the one I was looking for…most of which incorporated marijuana. I’ll leave that up to you and your state and local laws and Google. I’m going with the more conventional and universally accepted version.
1 sleeve of saltine crackers
1 package of Hidden Valley dressing mix
1 cup canola oil
1 Tbsp. cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)
Place crackers in a sealable baggie (the reference to a baggie and the previous mention of marijuana are purely coincidental).
Add the rest of the ingredients to a bowl and mix to blend
Add mixture to the baggie of crackers and gently toss to coat
Allow the crackers to absorb the spices. Give ‘em a little time to dry.
A note of advice: sample the jalapenos before you make up a big batch of ‘em. I read somewhere that a rule of thumb is that the bigger the jalapeno the milder. The smaller the hotter. And we thought size didn’t matter. I was used to picking up my peppers from a large local supermarket chain and everything went well. The supermarket jalapenos were mild enough that only those with a severe capsicum-intolerance would have trouble with ‘em. Then one day I stopped at a roadside fresh produce stand and picked up a bushel of their jalapenos. Uh, they were a tad warmer. One of my favorite writers is Bruce Cameron. He wrote a piece one time about getting conscripted to serve as a judge in a chili cook-off. In it he told that, due to the heat of some of the chilies, his esophagus was burned out and turned into a straight pipe from one end to the other. The peppers in question weren’t quite that bad but I’d still recommend sampling them before trying to feed them to your guests unless your guest list is composed of several holdovers from a fire eater’s convention.
There are a couple of different methods for grilling the jalapenos. One is a fine piece of equipment designed specifically for grilling jalapenos. I’ve seen about a dozen variations of the same thing…a flat piece of stainless steel with legs on either end to hold it off the grill and a number of holes drilled in the top in which to insert the peppers in an upright position. I didn’t have too much luck with that…apparently it had more than two moving parts. So I borrowed a cookie tray from my wife which then became mine for grilling because I burned the heck out of it and she made me replace hers. Regardless of which method you use, not only does the size of the pepper matter but also how long they are on the grill affect the capsicum. The more time spent cooking the less heat. So, theoretically, you could conceivably grill a perfectly good, hot pepper to the same heat as water but that would be somewhat counter-productive, wouldn’t it?
Start with a pair of rubber gloves unless you actually enjoy the tingling/burning from the capsicum (the stuff that makes the peppers hot). A word of caution whether you wear gloves or not, make it a point NOT to touch your eyes unless you have a nostalgic yearning to revisit that little incident in which you were pepper sprayed in the eyes. Nor should you touch any other anatomical part…and for the same reason.
Next, select 12 large jalapeno chili peppers. Halve them lengthwise. Remove the seeds and the ribs or veins. There are several companies that make a tool specifically for this little chore.
Place the halved jalapenos on a lightly oiled cooking tray and set aside
This would probably be a good time to fire up your grill and bring it to ‘hot’ while you work on the stuffing.
For the stuffing:
6 oz. softened cream cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 green onions finely sliced. Use the whole onion inc. the green
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. chipotle pepper
Stir all the stuffing ingredients until they are thoroughly mixed.
Now spoon the stuffing equally into the halved jalapenos and place the cooking tray on the grill. Close the lid and let the grill work its magic. When the stuffing is bubbling and the outside of the peppers is blistering its ready to serve. Remove the cooking tray from the grill and serve.
Here are a couple of variations:
To the above recipe substitute 2 oz. goat cheese for 2 oz. of the cream cheese. Substitute white cheddar for the sharp cheddar.
Thoroughly brown ½ lb. spicy (hot) chorizo sausage, crumble and add to the stuffing. Substitute the chorizo for the chipotle pepper.
Subject it to the taste test and if you want a bit more heat in the stuffing you can add a dash or two of chipotle. My experience has been that it doesn’t take a lot of chipotle to bring up the temperature.
Another one you might like to try is substituting finely diced red onion for the green onion. Then add a small can of minced pineapple. Maybe throw in some small-cubed ham or real bacon bits and brown sugar for a touch of the islands. There are those who would suggest that’s roughly akin to putting pineapple on pizza but what do they know?
Once again, I’ve exceeded my space and time so will close with high hopes of a better outcome than that experienced in Boulder. Should it turn out otherwise I’ll likely just consume a platter of ghost peppers and wait for the end to come.
See you through the smoke.