Servings: 16 appetizers
10 sweet mini tri-colored peppers
6 jalapeño peppers
6 ounces cream cheese
4 ounces Comté cheese, diced into very small pieces
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon cream or milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 slices day-old bread, cubed
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, freshly shaved
1½ teaspoons black pepper, freshly cracked
1 teaspoon salt
1 quart peanut oil (or regular vegetable oil), for deep frying,, as needed
Prepping the chile peppers:
Using a paring knife, create a 3-inch incision in the peppers. Depending on the spiciness, you can remove the seeds or not. This time, I removed the seeds on the sweet mini peppers but not on the spicy ones (don't forget to wear disposable gloves). Set aside.
Making the cheese filling:
In a bowl, combine the cream cheese, Comté cheese (see tips) and ¼ teaspoon salt. Mix well.
Using a small spoon, fill the chiles with the cream cheese mixture. Season with salt and pepper.
Crack the eggs in a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon cream and lightly beat the eggs.
In a food processor, combine the bread and Parmesan cheese. Pulse until they become a powder. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a plate.
Put the flour on another plate.
Spray the peppers with oil, roll them in flour, then transfer to the egg mixture and finally coat the pepppers in the bread crumbs. Repeat until all the appetizers are well coated.
In a large Dutch oven (or any regular deep-fryer), heat the peanut oil for about 2 minutes over high heat. There should be at least a 3-inch-high level of oil. Wait until the oil is slightly bubbly (not too hot); a thermometer should register 345°F to 360°F.
Test the oil by dropping a piece of bread into the hot oil. It should float but not swell.
Place the pepper poppers one at a time in the hot oil; cook up to 4 per batch.
Fry in batches, making sure the fritters don't touch each other. Lower the heat to medium. Deep fry for 2-3 minutes per batch. Use a splatter screen to prevent the oil from jumping everywhere . Flip each piece using a spider skimmer and cook for about a minute more until golden on both sides.
Delicately lift each pepper popper, draining as much oil as possible, and transfer them to the cooling rack. Continue with the rest of the chiles.
Serve immediately with various chutneys or a buttermilk ranch dressing on the side.
The cheese pairs nicely with the spiciness of the jalapeño peppers. You could also replace cream cheese and Comté cheese with your favorite cheeses.
For an added salty note, you could add 1½ tablespoons chopped pan-fried pancetta to the cream cheese filling.
Check out more fritter recipes.