I have coined this "the greatest appetizer of all time." Nothing, I mean nothing even comes close to it. I have posted a basic recipe for smoked stuffed jalapeno peppers a while back. I've tried various modifications on the basic recipe and have only come up with one that I really like. The modification is quite simple actually: hot sauce. The addition of 2-4 tablespoons of hot sauce to the standard cream cheese/Colby Jack mixture is incredible. You have to give this a try. One additional perk is that the hot sauce gives the cheese mix a nice spicy red color.
This recipe is written so you'll use up a whole block of cream cheese as well as 8 oz of shredded cheese. It works out where if you use 10-12 jalapeno peppers you'll have about 20-24 stuffed peppers in total. The quantity of the cheese mixture seems just about right for this.
Take the peppers and cut them in half. I like to use a teaspoon to scoop out the insides. The heat comes from the white membrane and seeds so if you are feeling crazy leave some of the seeds and membrane in there! If you are afraid of a little heat then core it all the way down to the green. It's very wise to use latex gloves for this step.
You might think that just any old bacon will work. Not so. I spend a long time in the grocery store stewing over the perfect type of bacon. The best results will come from a really lean slice of bacon with minimal fat. The fat isn't needed because there is so much flavor elsewhere. So pick up every box of bacon and turn it over. Look for the most lean peppered bacon you can find. I really like peppered bacon.
I also use latex gloves for the next step. Add a whole 8 oz pack of cream cheese, 8 oz of shredded Colby jack cheese and about 2-4 tablespoons of hot sauce. I have been using Texas Pete's hot sauce lately and it's worked well. However, I'm sure any hot sauce you use will be great.
One common mistake is to overstuff the pepper. It's ok to add the cheese mixture in so it's just level with the pepper. Overstuffing results in an oozing mess while the peppers smoke. They aren't nearly as attractive. I've learned the hard way. The most attractive peppers come from an even moderate layer of cheese.
After the cheese is stuffed into the pepper I take a HALF slice of bacon, wrap it around the pepper and then secure it with a toothpick. Call me crazy but I've found that a whole slice of bacon is a bit too much. I like to use a half slice. Once they are assembled sprinkle some black pepper all over the top. I've made these up to a day in advance. I'll sit them in an aluminum tin and cover with foil in the fridge.
Light the smoker for a 250 degree heat. I have been using apple wood. These should take anywhere from 1 hour to 1.5 hours depending on your temperature. The best smoked stuffed jalapeno pepper will be one that has been smoking long enough to be completely tender but is not too black in color. Black peppers will taste burnt and have been smoked for too long. When you bite into a perfect stuffed jalapeno pepper you should be able to take a clean bite right through the pepper and the bacon without it falling apart all over you. It's quite magical, actually.
You can also make these stuffed peppers on a charcoal grill by adding some smoke wood, maintaining a low 250 degree heat and placing the peppers over indirect heat.
Aren't these pretty? I swear whenever you walk into the party with a plate full of these that they are gone before you can even get to the serving table. I love how the addition of the hot sauce gives the cheese a nice red color. These just look hot and dangerous, don't they!?
Note: Some people call these smoked stuffed jalapeno peppers "atomic buffalo turds."