Two of my most requested dishes from two of my favorite websites, amazingribs.com, and smoking-meat.com. Cowboy Candy is sweet pickled jalapenos, sliced into rings and served on a Ritz with cream cheese. If you have a smoker, you'll love the smoked stuffed meatloaf. It's the first thing my kids and grandkids ask for when they come to visit.
Makes. 12 ounce bottle
Takes. 15 minutes for prep, and 25 to 30 minutes cooking time
2 cups white granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup distilled vinegar
3/4 pounds fresh green jalapeños, washed thoroughly
You will also need a clean 12 ounce jar with a lid
Small knife or potato peeler, if desired
1) Cut off the top stems. Slice them into 1/8" rings (if you don’t want them quite as hot, de-vein the jalapenos first. I use a small knife or a peeler for this).
2) Cook the water, sugar, and vinegar in a saucepan over medium heat until it boils and stir until all the sugar has dissolved.
3) Add the peppers and the liquid will stop boiling. (Don’t stand over the pot when you do this – the released capsaicin-think pepper spray-can be very strong) Wait for it to boil again and turn it off after about 20 seconds. This will pasteurize the peppers. Letting it boil a little longer can reduce the spiciness.
4) While it is hot, use a slotted spoon to move the peppers into a very clean 12 ounce jar. Pack them in tight and pour in the syrup. Poke around with a fork until most of the air is gone, tighten the lid, and refrigerate. Keep refrigerated. After 2 days they will start losing the bright green color and the peppers and the syrup will swap their fluids. You can dig in then, but if you wait a week, you will be rewarded for your patience.
Serve with cream cheese and Ritz crackers.
STUFFED SMOKED MEATLOAF
What You'll Need
A muffin pan (square cutouts instead of round), or small loaf pans
8 or more jalapeños (cleaned and seeded)
8 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 lbs 80/20 ground beef (or 1lb each ground beef and ground sausage)
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup Barbecue Sauce
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 Tablespoons of your favorite rub
¼ cup quick oats or fresh bread crumbs if desired
PREPARE THE STUFFED PEPPERS
Start by cutting off the stem end of the pepper, cut them in half lengthwise then remove seeds and veins.
Blanch the Peppers
This process comes out of necessity since the jalapeños do not soften as much as they should while inside the meatloaf. By blanching them it pre-softens them and they end up nice and soft when the meatloaf is done.
To blanch the peppers, just bring a pot of water to boiling then remove it from the heat. Place the cleaned and seeded jalapeños in the super-heated water covered with a lid for about 10 minutes or so.
While the peppers are blanching, mix the cream cheese with the grated cheddar and set aside.
After blanching, stuff the inside of the pepper halves with the cream cheese mixture.
Lay a stuffed jalapeño (cheese up) into the bottom of each of the muffin pan holes and set aside while you mix up the meatloaf.
MAKING THE MEATLOAF
Place the ground beef, onions, buttermilk, egg, barbecue sauce, oats or bread crumbs, and rub into a large bowl and mix just enough to combine the ingredients.
Once mixed, fill each muffin hole with meatloaf mixture right over the top of the stuffed pepper. Just fill level with the top.
At this point I like to place the pan of meatloaf in the fridge to help the meatloaf to firm up a little… about 30 minutes ought to do it.
Remove each mini meatloaf from the pan, and place directly on the smoker’s rack.
SMOKING THE MEATLOAF
Have your smoker set for about 240 degrees F to 270 degrees F for the entire time for right at 3 hours. If your smoker has a water pan, use it.
Use a good robust wood like mesquite, hickory or pecan for best flavor. Feel free to mix in some fruit wood such as cherry or apple if you like and if you are using a charcoal, electric or gas smoker, keep the smoke flowing for the entire time.
FRY THE BACON
Fry the bacon and let it cool. Once cool you can break it up into small bits and pieces.
When the meatloaf is about 30 to 45 minutes from being finished or at about 145-150 degrees if you are monitoring the temperature, quickly open the door of the smoker and brush barbecue sauce onto the tops of the mini meatloafs.
Once sauced, sprinkle the bacon crumbles on the tops of the meatloafs and close the door to let them finish cooking.
When the meatloaf reaches 160 it is done to perfection. I like to remove the meatloaf just shy of 160 (155-157) since the temperature will continue to rise just a few degrees once removed from the heat.