This is the recipe I entered into the Austin Bacon Takedown and had over 200 people try! There’s a significant amount of flavors, evenly dispersed across the entire dish and a little sweet flavor that creates a combination of savory and sweet. I had an awesome time experimenting with bacon before we left. Here’s my experience (and recipe too!).
Over two months ago now (I can’t believe how quick time goes by!) we were in Austin, TX for SXSWi. We did a few different photo shoots, visited with friends (some we only see once a year), made new ones, got a better taste of the Primal/Paleo friendly Austin cuisine and the entire Spyr Media crew was able to come along as I appeared on not one but TWO TV stations to help promote the Austin Bacon Takedown.
First up, Paleo Jalapeño Poppers on CBS
Friday March 9th I was on CBS with the host of the Takedown, Matt Timms.
When they showed me where to set up I immediately asked if it was possible to get some kind of a riser or step because the height of the tables where I’d be putting together my recipe were seriously almost as tall as my shoulders! When one of the CBS hosts came in, right before we were going live, she said she’d get rid of her shoes to help me feel better, which I thought was super nice, even though other people’s heights don’t really bother me. The reason I asked for the step was just the fact that I didn’t want to look like a little kid, not even able to reach the plates..haha.
Anyway, they brought in a stair step for me and Matt wound up leaning on the table so in the end all four of us almost looked the entire height for the segment. Right before we went on air we were talking about the ingredients I used for my recipe and I mentioned I had brought some ingredients from home, in Chicago, and they made it a point to tell me not to mention that. Now I didn’t understand exactly why until after we finished taping the segment. So let’s get to the CBS taping and you’ll see why.
Turns out one of the things Matt mentioned was that Austin residents were signed up to compete. I was the only crazy person who came from Chicago, rented a kitchen and entered in the Austin Bacon Takedown. :)
What are Poppers?
Before I continue, I should probably clarify. A popper, to me, is a small appetizer, snack or mini version of a food that can easily pop in your mouth as a whole or with one bite. Most of the time jalapeño peppers are used as the vessel to stuff and use as the base of the poppers (at least they are in my recipe.) :)
Next Up: Paleo Poppers on NBC
Sunday morning on daylight savings, nice and early before the sun rose, Jeff, Dave and I headed out to NBC studios. We stayed out a little late the night before at the Copyblogger Party shooting people in the face and so we didn’t get much sleep before having to leave the house at around 5am. So it shouldn’t surprise you when I say after we arrived at the TV station I ran out of the car to get the stuff out of the trunk, before I even turned off the engine. I yelled to Jeff “is the car still on?!?” and I couldn’t believe I had done that. But that was not the only cause of our early morning laughter. Immediately after we arrived Matt & Stephanie pulled up and while I was asking Jeff about our car Matt was getting out of his…as his car was continuing to roll away!! He got out of the car and forgot to put it in park! We were definitely on track to start our morning segment!! ;)
After waiting a while longer than we were told to arrive, it was our time to shine. We got everything organized on a nice low table and while we were standing there during the commercial break prior to our segment you could actually see my twitter handle on my apron above the shot of bacon, I thought that was kinda cool! You can definitely tell it was an early morning, since my voice is about ten octaves lower in this video than the previous one that was filmed around 5 in the afternoon. Thanks to Stephanie for sending over the videos, here is my Austin NBC debut. :)
Time to Get Cookin’
We left NBC and headed to breakfast at The Magnolia Cafe and then went straight to The Kitchen Space, where I rented my own kitchen to use for a 3 hour block of time. I planned to make 250-300 Bacon Wrapped Chicken-Chorizo Poppers but what I hadn’t anticipated was how dead tired we’d all be.
Dave and Jeff were so tired they slept in the car in the parking lot for the first couple hours, while I was busy inside. I figured it’d be much easier to get the prep work done first without the zombies getting in the way ;), and then call them in when I needed their help to put everything together.
Something else I had no idea about was how long everything on a mass scale would take. It took me almost 2 hours to cut, seed and half all 300 peppers. In that time I also cooked the first few pounds of Chorizo on a professional stove, one that I’d never used before (and thank goodness there were others in the kitchen to help me figure it out). I sliced and de-seeded all the dates and got the assembly line ready to make the mass amounts of, as Jeff called them, mini bacon sushi’s. Each piece had to be put together separately, wrapped and joined together with a toothpick. Then they needed to cook in the stand alone, professional grade broiler (again a new appliance to me, and one that I needed help figuring out how to turn on).
After about two hours I was starting to get nervous and didn’t want to leave the kitchen and go wake up Jeff and Dave so I started calling Jeff’s phone. After the sixth or seventh time he eventually woke up and made his way in, with one hour to spare. We put together five large sheets full and put them in the oven to cook, and that turned out to be only about 125 poppers and our last hour on the kitchen rental, and right before the event was to start, was almost up!
Paleo Poppers Arrive at the Austin Bacon Takedown
Doors were set to open at 2pm at Shangri La and the competition was set to start at 2:30pm. Contestants were told to arrive around 1:30pm to decorate our tables for a separate competition but since I wasn’t really worried about setting up my table, as much as I was worried about having enough poppers for all the people to try, we decided to stay at the kitchen as long as we could before everything was about to start.
Jeff and I finished putting together about 160 poppers and while we waited for them to cook I did a crazy woman clean up of the kitchen. I’m so glad it was just us in there because if anyone else would have been sharing the space they might have thought we were nuts at the speed we were working.
As I mentioned before, doors opened at 2pm and the kitchen was only a 5 minute drive away so we flew out the doors, kicked the sleeping Dave outta the drivers seat, Jeff hopped in his place, I hopped in the passenger seat and we arrived at Shangri La at 2:10pm. I ran outta the car pushing my way through the people standing in line waiting to get in yelling “excuse me…bacon coming through!”
I got to my table plopped my pan of poppers down, pulled out my SPYR pink & black napkins and started handing out samples.
Jeff and Dave came in after they parked the car and they started shooting photos of everyone tasting my bacon treats!
I was slightly more calm after I saw Joel, Matt and Vic come through the line. Within the first 20 minutes I was almost down to the bottom of my pan though and the line was still very consistent. Luckily I made it in time for when the judges walked through, and I even got a photo with Hilah.
People who were first in line were coming back to hit up my table since I had missed them when I wasn’t there at 2pm. Jeff got a text from Ryan that he and Josh weren’t able to get in because they’d reached the max occupancy and I couldn’t believe it, especially since we were there for only like 30-40 minutes at that time! Luckily Adam and Tara were one of the last few able to slide in, but unfortunately I had already run out of poppers.
The up side of running out was that I was then able to walk around and get a taste of everyone else’s dishes. There were so many sweet recipes, one of my favorites was a cupcake where bacon was infused into the frosting. There were some that I could barely taste the bacon in them. There was bacon tacos, a gumbo and even bacon ice cream.
In the end I didn’t wind up winning the judges awards or the tasters choice but I got rave reviews from my friends and even someone passing thru the line who I didn’t know made a point to tell me they saw me on TV that morning and I was the reason they decided to come to the event…how awesome is that!?! :D
It was a little stressful but a lot of fun and I found out there’s going to be a Bacon Takedown in Chicago, so maybe I’ll do it again (and be able to cook in my own kitchen this time!).
History Behind the Paleo Porn Poppers
I originally did many bacon recipe tests to figure out what my final recipe would be. I started with the bacon wrapped chicken popper recipe, changed the amount of ingredients then crossed it with a stuffed date (which I was inspired by from a local Chicago restaurant). With lots of testing to achieve the exact ratio of each ingredient I finally arrived with this Paleo Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers recipe. So there you have it…let me know what you think if you give them a try.
You will also find this tasty recipe in my first cookbook, Pigskin Paleo.
Just a note, total time to make 160 poppers is about 3 hours ;)
Paleo Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers Recipe
- 1 link (7.5 oz) beef chorizo
- 10 jalapeño peppers
- 5 dates, pits removed and quartered
- 3-4 chicken tenders or chicken breast, cut into tiny strips the length of the pepper
- red pepper flakes, to taste
- bacon, I love this kind
Directions Makes 20 Poppers
- Unwrap the Chorizo and add it to a frying pan. Constantly stir the meat until the oils start to bubble and disappear, letting the meat start to sizzle up. Try a piece, but don’t burn yourself, to taste if it’s ready. Should be done in 6-8 minutes, 10 minutes max.
- Cut the tops off the peppers and then slice the pepper in half.
- Scrape out the seeds from the pepper. IMPORTANT: Don’t touch your face while working with the peppers & seeds!
- If you haven’t already, slice each date into quarters.
- Lay a slice of date on the bottom of one jalapeño pepper.
- Spoon some chorizo over the date.
- Cut a slice of raw chicken tender and lay it across the top of the chorizo. This should not be protruding the top of the pepper. You want little bitty bites so everything has equal flavor.
- Sprinkle some red pepper flakes across the top of the chicken. Not too much though, unless you want it really spicy.
- Wrap the stuffed pepper with a half slice of bacon and secure it all in place with a toothpick.
- Repeat steps 5-9 until all your peppers are ready.
- Place the bacon wrapped stuffed peppers on a broiler pan and put them in the broiler of the oven. (If you don’t have a broiler tray, place your oven rack as close to the heat source in your oven as possible.) Cook for 8 minutes on each side but be sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. The second round usually won’t take the full 8 minutes.
- Take out of the oven and transfer to a plate to cool.
- Enjoy! :)