Fiery Side

By Angela Denstad Stigeler

As you’re all gathered ’round the grill for the Fourth of July holiday, get ready for those meaty grill stripes to welcome a new star to sizzle alongside them. Fiery fresh jalapeño peppers stuffed with a cheddar-bacon-ranch filling will be your new favorite side-dish. Easy to prepare in advance, they’re the perfect grill fillers to place around the edges, since you want them to slow-roast over indirect heat. The longer they roast, the milder the peppers become, so you can customize your level of burn from a fiery quick-char to a slow mellow heat.

They’re a sensational appetizer if you’re awaiting something big on the grill, or great sliced open as a burger topper. They’ll lend flavor and flair to plain grilled chicken breasts and are also an indulgent side with grilled steaks. Whether you start your meal off with a bang, or choose these poppers to nestle in beside some steaks, you’ll all feel the warmth with this fiery side.

Grilled Cheddar-Bacon

Jalapeño Poppers

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons buttermilk

2 tablespoons chopped mixed herbs, such as chives, cilantro and dill

¼ teaspoon each garlic powder, salt and pepper

2 pieces bacon, cooked and crumbled

½ cup grated cheddar cheese

12 jalapeño peppers

In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese and buttermilk together until creamy. Add the herbs, seasonings, bacon and cheddar and stir until well combined.

Leaving the stem end of the peppers intact, cut a long slit in one side of each pepper. Carefully remove the ribs and seeds through the slit and fill each pepper with the cheese mixture.* Place them in a grill basket or on skewers and cook over indirect heat on the grill until the peppers have softened and darkened in color, about 25 minutes.

*Alternatively, you can cut the peppers fully in half before stuffing. They can also be cooked under the broiler.