Recipes, Side dishes

Crab and Ricotta Jalapeno Poppers

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We just had a big weekend with old friends and family. In honor of the October hunting season, I made Bear and Mushroom Fricassee for Saturday’s meal, but on Sunday, it was football and snacks and then pulled pork and coleslaw sandwiches, which my son brought. Among the snack food on the table was a plate of bear liver pate, some homemade charred salsa, and a new one for me, jalapeno poppers. Jalapeno poppers with crab and ricotta cheese.

I make my own ricotta from milk either soured or on the edge, and have for some years. I freeze it in Ziploc bags, so I have it whenever I need ricotta, usually for my Eggplant Lasagna with meat sauce and lots of cheese. However, yesterday morning, when I needed to get two half cartons of milk out of the fridge (somehow when we were camping we ended up with two cartons that were now past expiration) to make room for the leftovers I knew we’d have, I decided to use the cheese right out of the strainer.

I had planned to make crab cakes as well, but I was talked out of it the night before by my son, who didn’t know what time the hunters would be getting back from the hill. But then I remembered that Cristy, a Facebook friend, had said that crab was good in jalapeno poppers. So instead of going with another recipe I’d found, my friend, Karen, and I came up with our own.  And they were great!

Crab and Ricotta Jalapeno Poppers

12 medium jalapeno peppers, either red or green

½ cup ricotta cheese

½ cup crab meat (fresh, frozen, or canned)

¼ teaspoon of Cajun or Creole seasoning, more if you prefer

2-4 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese

Hot smoked paprika for sprinkling

2 tablespoons chopped chives or green onion tops

I got a small package of crab out of the freezer and thawed it in cold water in the sink. This is Dungeness crab my husband and brother pulled out of the Pacific Ocean last November, and we picked it and froze it in food saver bags. It is still great! Of course, you could use any kind of crab, fresh, frozen, or even canned.

I went out to the garden and picked about a dozen medium-sized, red and green jalapeno peppers. I left the stems on them when I rinsed and dried them, and I cut them in half through the stems so that each pepper (or almost) had a little stem attached for a handle. Then I used a small, sharp knife to clean out the seeds and ribs in each pepper half. I placed them on a foil-lined cookie sheet, and cranked the oven up to 425 degrees.

I mixed about a half cup of freshly-made ricotta with about a half cup of thawed crabmeat. I added about a ¼ teaspoon of Cajun seasoning. Ricotta is cooked with some salt, and crab is cooked in salty water, so you don’t need to add much salt to this mixture. I like the Cajun or Creole seasoning because it has some herbs and a little spice in it, but crab is so delicate, you don’t want to overwhelm it with too much seasoning.

While I ran back out to the garden to grab some fresh chives and green tops from my winter onions, Karen filled the jalapeno pepper halves with the crab and ricotta mixture. As each half was filled, I sprinkled them with a little grated Parmesan cheese, and then a tiny bit of hot smoked paprika.

Into the oven they went for about 15 minutes, and then I turned on the broiler for about 3 minutes for a little extra browning on top. When they came out of the oven, I sprinkled the tops with chopped chives and green onion.

They turned out beautifully, and I learned why they are called jalapeno poppers. It’s because you can just pop them in your mouth in one delicious bite! It sounds kind of crazy, but they went really well with our champagne cocktails made with prosecco and sparkling moscato and my homemade fruit beverage syrups.

Our food made up for the fact that our team lost miserably! Well, maybe, kinda, sorta. It was such a miserable game, we all ended up outside around the patio table with our food and drink, and I don’t think anybody watched the end of the game! We were having such a good time, I forgot to take a picture of the jalapeno poppers when they came out of the oven.  These are actually the leftovers.

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