When you hear the word "popper," you may think of stuffed jalapeños filled with cheese and other delicious ingredients. But this Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp Poppers recipe inverses that - instead of stuffing the jalapeños, we stuff the shrimp with jalapeño and pepper-jack cheese!
This is one of those recipes that you might want to save for a special night. As you can imagine, it does require pretty large shrimp to be able to fill them. When shopping for shrimp, the count on the bag or package is approximately how many shrimp per pound. These were 12 to 15 count, pretty big!
The best way to cook these shrimp poppers is with a wire rack placed on top of baking sheet. Using a wire rack helps cook the bacon and shrimp more evenly and keeps them from sitting in a pan full of grease when they are done cooking. I did not do this, but you may want to flip the shrimp over halfway through cooking time so the shrimp cooks more evenly on both sides.
Whenever you have a recipe that calls for cheese, like this one, it's not a bad idea to freeze the cheese after you slice it. The cheese will still leak a little as it bakes, but not as much.
In a bowl, combine the spice mix. Add salt to taste, set aside.
Place the jalapeños in a small pan, drizzle with a teaspoon of oil and cook over medium heat. After a few minutes, the skin on the jalapeños will start to blister and blacken. Turn as needed until all sides have been cooked through. Remove from the heat and allow them to cool.
Peel and clean the shrimp, leaving the tails on. With a small, sharp knife, cut each shrimp vertically open as much as you can without cutting it in half all the way through. You want as much space to place the cheese and jalapeño inside. Lightly season the shrimp with the spice mix, cover and place them in the fridge.
Cut the pepper-jack cheese into lean, small 1-inch matchstick sized pieces. If they are too long, the cheese will melt and leak out. Place on a plate and freeze until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 450º F. Place the metal rack on top of a baking sheet, set aside.
Once the jalapeños have completely cooled, carefully remove the stems and seeds and slice each pepper into 4 equal-sized strips.
Place a piece of cheese and strip of jalapeño inside the opening of each shrimp. Wrap each shrimp with a bacon strip as tight as you can and place onto the rack. Repeat the process until you have done all of the jumbo shrimp poppers. Lightly drizzle with any remaining spice mix.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the bacon is cooked. Remove from oven and baste with your favorite hot sauce, or if you would like to save for later allow the poppers to cool, refrigerate and broil for two minutes before serving.
Roasting the chile peppers first gives them more flavor and softens them so it's much easier to stuff them into the shrimp.