I've been grilling these fiery appetizers at block parties and barbecues for more than a dozen years, and they've always been a huge hit. For this issue of Hot Off The Grill, however, they're taking on a new (and more apt) name. I've always called them "Hot Kisses," but frankly they are usually a little ugly coming off the grill, and they don't kiss so much as they bite. So, from Memorial Day 2009onward, I am calling them "Demon Toes." Keep an eye out for a milder and better looking variation to take over the old "Hot Kisses" name.
6 to 8
- 24 medium-sized jalapenos
- 7 ounces Chihuahua cheese
- 10 ounces imitation crab meat flakes
- 24 slices center-cut bacon
- 24 toothpicks
- 4 fresh limes
Preheat the grill for direct cooking at 400°F to 500°F. Make sure you also have a “safe zone” — an area of the grill with low or no heat where you can move any troublesome Demon Toes to until they settle down and can return to the fire.
Wearing latex gloves to protect your hands from the hot peppers, cut off the stem end of each jalapeno and hollow out the pepper to remove ribs and all seeds. I use the handle end of an iced tea spoon for hollowing the peppers.
Cut the cheese into wedge-shaped sticks, sized to fit into the point of each jalapeno and fill about half of the cavity. Stuff a piece of cheese into each jalapeno. Follow with crab flakes to fill the rest of the cavity. Capping the cavity with the crab meat helps keep the cheese from melting out. Compress the stuffing into each jalapeno.
For food safety reasons, all jalapenos should be stuffed with cheese and crab before handling the bacon. Squeeze a lime over the stuffed jalapenos.
Wrap each stuffed jalapeno with a strip of bacon. Start by placing one end of the bacon in the middle of the jalapeno, running lengthwise over the open end. Hold the end of the bacon against the side of the jalapeno and pull the bacon tightly up and over the open end, closing off the opening. Continue down the other side of the jalapeno to the pointed tip, and then wrap around, spiraling back toward the open end. Pierce all the way through the bacon and jalapeno with a toothpick to hold it all together.
Squeeze the juice of 2 more limes over the assembled Demon Toes.
Transfer the Demon Toes to the grill. Turn ocassionally until the bacon is crisp and fully cooked. Your goal is to achieve crisp bacon on the outside while the jalapeno is still somewhat firm and bright green in color.
Remove the peppers from the grill and let cool for five minutes. Cut the remaining lime into wedges and serve with the peppers. Warn your guests that there is a toothpick in each piece.
Demon Toes can be served without condiments or accompanied by your favorite ranch dressing, remoulade or sour cream.
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