Just like what it sounds like — a jalapeño popper, reborn as your new favorite grilled cheese. If two peppers per sandwich seems outrageous, it is, but in a good way. The char from the broiler mellows the heat from sharp and stingy to smoky and warm. (And if you don’t like spice at all? Well, you’re in the wrong place.) You’ll notice that the recipe offers two paths: crispy bacon or barbecue potato chips. Obviously, one way to think about this is: Do you eat meat or nah? But even if you do eat meat — not to pick favorites but, yeah, to pick favorites — the potato chips snatched my heart.
Recipe: Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese
- 4 large jalapeños, halved lengthwise and seeded
- 4 slices bacon, halved crosswise — or 2 big handfuls barbecue potato chips
- 4 slices sandwich bread, such as white or sourdough
- 4 slices Pepper Jack cheese
- Garlic powder, for sprinkling
- Salted butter, at room temperature, for smearing
- In the oven or a toaster oven, heat the broiler to high with a rack no more than 6 inches from the heat source. Line a sheet pan with foil. Add the jalapeños, cut side down. Broil until blackened and flattened, rotating the pan halfway through, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the jalapeños to a small bowl and use the foil to tightly cover, so the jalapeños can steam for a few minutes. Peel away and discard the skins.
- Meanwhile, if you’re using bacon, add it to a (preferably cast-iron) skillet and set over medium heat. Cook for about 8 minutes, flipping halfway through, until it’s as crispy as you like. Transfer the bacon to a plate and pour the fat into a heatproof jar. (If you’re using potato chips instead, skip this step.)
- Lay 2 slices of bread on a work surface. Top each with a slice of cheese, 4 jalapeño halves, half the bacon or potato chips, another slice of cheese, and another slice of bread.
- Generously smear both sides of each sandwich with butter, then lightly sprinkle all over with garlic powder. (Psst: If you’d like an extra-bacony sandwich, you can use the rendered bacon fat instead of butter, or a combo.)
- If you cooked bacon, return the skillet to medium heat; if not, set a (preferably cast-iron) skillet over medium heat. Add the sandwiches and cook until crispy on both sides and melty in the middle, 5 to 8 minutes total. (If the sandwiches are browning too quickly, lower the heat as needed, and if the pan looks too dry at any point, add a smidge of butter.)
- Cut in half, sprinkle with salt if you’d like, and devour immediately.