What to do on Father's Day when it's time to eat and you want to serve something manly and filling? Here's a nominee that re-engineers jalapeno poppers, a classic sports bar appetizer.
Standard jalapeno poppers are thumb-sized hot peppers stuffed with cream cheese and cheddar cheese, then breaded and deep-fried. Yummy, but most home cooks aren't too excited about the mess of deep frying. That's why there also is a baked version.
Both types are delicious, but neither is all that healthy.
From a culinary point of view, jalapeno poppers make complete sense. Nothing tames a chile's heat like dairy. That's why so many cultures serve their fiery entrees with dairy as a side dish. And that's why cheese is right at home in a jalapeno popper.
But it doesn't have to be high-fat cheese. The fresh goat cheese in this recipe delivers the required creaminess, while a very modest amount of Parmigiano-Reggiano delivers the required flavor.
I brightened up the filling with scallions and lemon zest, then wrapped the stuffed jalapeno in prosciutto, my substitute for bacon. Though it has a lot less fat than bacon, prosciutto boasts big pork flavor. And when it's baked, it's nice and crispy, which eliminates the need to coat the pepper with bread crumbs.
A couple of tips for preparing the jalapenos: First, wear rubber gloves when halving and gutting the peppers. You don't want capsaicin oils burning your hands. Also, use a grapefruit spoon, if you have one, to remove the pepper's ribs and seeds, which are the hottest parts.