Stout Bacon Jam Jalapeno Poppers

 Stout Bacon Jam Jalapeno Poppers. Because the only thing that can make Jalapeno Poppers better is bacon. And beer. 

Stout Bacon Jam Jalapeno Poppers. Because the only thing that can make Jalapeno Poppers better is bacon. And beer.


I was on a reality TV show once.

By the time filming started, in a cold warehouse in Van Nuys in January, the idea I had been pitched by the team of producers had morphed into something that hardly resembled the original premise. I’d been sold on the idea that the team was to document the process of assisting me in developing a line of beer infused food for grocery stores. I ended up walking into a cooking competition.

When I arrived at a hotel near the filming location I was asked to hand over my phone, my computer and all access to the outside world. The phone in the room was even disabled. I asked why, what if I need something? “You won’t” was as much of an answer as I could get.

A beat up Dodge Caravan pulled up at 5am the following morning as I stood shivering outside the hotel lobby. A few other TV show participates filed into the seats behind me. “Hi, I’m Jackie.” I said to the girl who sat down next to me.

“No talking!” A 23-year-old from Kentucky snapped at me from the driver’s seat.

“Wait…what?” I was confused and dangerously under caffeinated.

“You can’t talk to anyone except the producers unless we say you can.”

I didn’t push back, I just gave a look of shock to the other 5 passengers that was mirrored by their own reactions to this news.

After arriving on set, and a brief orientation to the show premise, which wasn’t even a distant cousin to the show vibe I was sold a few months prior, I was hustled to a make shift “room” which was no more than a large plywood box constructed on one end of the warehouse. Each contestant was put in a separate box, with nothing more than a folding chair. I sat there for three hours, re-reading the copy of Blood, Bones & Butter I luckily had in my bag. When it was my turn for shooting I was handed a plate of the bacon jam that I’d made for the shoot and given a few directions. “Walk to that podium, set down the plate, smile at the chefs.” “Now do it slower” “Now do it faster” “Introduce yourself” “Do it again.”  After a few scripted back and forth segments, I went back into the box. Starving, unsure of the time, bored to tears, to wait another three hours.

Late in the day, well past dark, it was time to shoot a mock cooking battle. The count down clock was faked. As soon as each participate was finished with the dish, the producers came over to shoot the “five…four…three…two…one…hands up, time is over” segment. We each did this three or four times, well after each of us had finished our dishes.

Close to midnight, exhausted, hungry, a bit jittery, the battle was over. I had made it to the top two. I wanted sleep, I didn’t care that I hadn’t been cut, I just wanted to sleep. Before I could go, I was taken to a dark room, sat in a chair, a bright light in my face obscuring the camera filming my responses to a young producers questions. It quickly became clear what she wanted. She wanted me to trash talk the other girls. I refused. Two hours later, the interrogation continued. “Aren’t you annoyed at how bubbly she is? Isn’t she ugly? Doesn’t it seem like she’s faking it all for attention?”

I thought of the people who admit to murders they don’t commit just to be left alone, just for sleep and food. “Listen,” I finally said, “I won’t do it. I’m not going to shit talk girls I genuinely like and hardly know just for some sound bites. You have to take a different direction.”

“Can you act scared of them?”

“Fine, they scare me.”

I was finally able to sleep. At least until 6 am when I had to do it all again. Another day of shooting, another day of the box. Another day of getting scolded for talking to people. We faked conversations about things that hadn’t happened for the sake of the camera. We filmed the “if you win” scene and the “if you lose” scene. They missed the genuine moments, the good stuff went on off camera.

After the final round, close to 3am, the last remaining contestant and I presented our dishes to the judges and a grocery store buyer. We had already filmed the “post judges, waiting for the results” banter, which we had to fake given that it took place 3 hours before the judges even showed up. She started to cry, no cameras around, no one but her and I.

“My whole life is in this product. I mortgaged our house, I depleted our savings. What if I fail? I think they like you more. I think they’ll pick you.” She sobbed.

stout bacon jam poppers

For me it was a whim. It was something fun. It was her life. I was rooting for her, she was the one who should win.

My pitch had gone well, really well. The pressed, I had answers. “Bacon jam? Isn’t jam supposed to be sweet?” I explained that plenty of jam was savory, onion, tomato, even garlic jam. With plenty of applications. Bacon jam could be both. It can go on brownies or vanilla ice cream, or it can be spread inside a pork loin roulade or on biscuits. When the show finally aired, however, my monologue was cut in favor of a shot of me staring blankly into space. As if I had no idea what the question meant.

Hers hadn’t gone well. She had been rude, combative, hostile. Mostly because she was exhausted, emotional, and desperate to win.

At 3am we were back, both of us rooting for her, both of us desperate to sleep. And then the answer came:

“And the contestant who is cut tonight is….Jackie”

I smiled. I was happy. We had to reshoot and I had to fake a sad face. But I was thrilled. The right person won.

Ten minutes later I was back in the interrogation room and I knew what the producers wanted. They wanted tears, they wanted me to be upset. I was just glad it was over. “Do you think the wrong person won? Did they make a mistake?”

“Nope. She should’ve won. She deserved it.”

“Isn’t she rude? Mean? How can you want a mean person to win?”

“Look, I know it would make great TV if the blonde white girl shit talks the 60-year-old Jamaican woman, but that’s not going to happen. Maybe she’s a bit rough, but I like her. She’s tough, she had a great product, she put her entire life on the line for this. She deserves it. They picked the right person.”

She didn’t like that. But it was 3 am and she finally just let me go back to the hotel.

By the time the show aired, it was full of petty, forced, artificial drama that had never really occur. You missed the heart and soul of good people, you had no one to root for. And even my competition, the woman whom even I wanted to win, came off as someone you wanted to root against. I looked sad, stupid and vacant. You wanted to throw Prozac at the screen every time I was on. Needless to say, the show did not return for a second season. People want someone to root for. They want to see the heart and soul more than the drama and the tears. Especially when it comes to food, give us a hero, someone to root for.


Stout Bacon Jam Jalapeno Poppers

These peppers are best made in stages. They are time consuming and tend to be too much work for the day of an event. It’s best to prep the peppers, make the jam and the cream cheese ahead of time, storing in the fridge until ready. Just fill, coat and fry when it's time to serve. (they can also be filled and stored in the fridge for 24 hours, just make sure to coat right before frying)


    For The Bacon Jam:
  • 12 oz thick sliced bacon (8-10 thick strips)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups imperial stout
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • For the Jalapenos:
  • 12-14 large jalapenos
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 3 tbs IPA beer
  • 3 eggs
  • flour for dusting
  • 2 cups Italian style bread crumbs
  • oil for frying


  • In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook the bacon, working in batches if necessary. Remove the bacon from the pan and allow to cool and then roughly chop.
  • Drain off the bacon grease from the pot, leaving only about 1 tbs bacon drippings in the bottom of the pot.
  • Return the pot to heat and cook the onions until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds. Add 1 cup beer and both vinegars, scraping to deglaze the bottom of the pot.
  • Add the brown sugar and the bacon, reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Place the lid on the pot at an angle, allowing to vent the steam.
  • Cook until reduced to a thick and syrupy consistency, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a food processor along with remaining 1/4 cup beer and pulse until most of the large pieces have been chopped. Bacon jam can be made up to a week ahead of time.
  • In a food processor add the cream cheese, mozzarella, and 3 tbs IPA beer, pulse until well combined.
  • Cut the top off the jalapenos, use a paring knife to scoop out the seeds and membrane inside the peppers.
  • Pipe the cream cheese mixture and the bacon jam into the pepper in equal portions. I used a dual piping bag for this. You can also slice the pepper ¾ the way down one side, spreading the jam on one side and the cream cheese on the other.
  • Sprinkle the peppers on all side with flour.
  • Add the eggs to a small bowl, beat until well combined.
  • Add the bread crumbs to another bowl.
  • One at a time dip the peppers in the egg mixture, allowing the excess to slide off before rolling in the bread crumbs. Place back in the egg mixture and then back in the bread crumbs. Set the pepper on a wire rack for about ten minutes to allow the coating to set.
  • Add 3 to 4 inches of oil to a pot over medium high heat, bring to 325 degrees using a deep-fry thermometer. Adjust heat to maintain this temperature. It’s important that the oil stays close to this temperature. If the oil is too cold the pepper will take on too much oil, if it’s too hot the breading will cook and the pepper will still be cold and vegetal. Cook the peppers for 5 to 6 minutes in the hot oil, return to a wire rack to cool. Serve immediately.

I used this dual piping bag for the filling. It also works great if you make cupcakes for football games, you can pipe two colors on at once. (affiliate link)

Stout Bacon Jam Jalapeno Poppers3

12 thoughts on “Stout Bacon Jam Jalapeno Poppers

  1. Just made this deliciousness. I added a little more sugar though. Am just using the bacon jam as a spread on crostinis for a holiday party :-). Also, I used a No-Li wrecking ball imperial stout. Thanks beeroness!

  2. Solid bacon jam recipe, beeroness! Kudos! I also use a touch of maple syrup in mine (Burton Maple Farms is the best!) which helps to coax out just a bit more flavor in the bacon.

  3. I would totally take a heap of your bacon jam, yo! And that show? Seriously – how sad that they have to pit everyone against each other. I’m glad the “right” person won, though I’m sure you’d be my first choice 🙂

  4. I remember that show. I was rooting for you because I’m a fan. Knowing what I know now, I am also so happy she won. There is no reality in Reality TV. I know someone who was invited to a live audition of The Voice. He was not allowed to sing the song of his choice. So wrong. Anyway…. I’ve been looking for a Bacon Jam recipe. Cant wait to make it.

  5. Wow, I always suspected that’s exactly how reality TV worked but thanks for really confirming. Grace under pressure is so hard but it looks like you pulled it off, naturally. 🙂 Also: these poppers look amazing! YUM!

  6. I’m curious as to the show… I know they don’t ALL work like that, and only because my cousin was on Hell’s Kitchen. Though I do know they were secluded from family and kept on premises until filming was over, and of course there’s the confidentiality clause that you can’t talk about it until after the season airs. And I’m fairly certain Fox owns him for life now.

  7. I’ll admit that I generally just skip the reading and scroll down to the actual recipe, but I read your entire post. Good job 🙂

  8. I had the most difficult time trying to make these, my skill level lacks. I tested a few at a time to try and get technique down, couldn’t land it. The flavors in this appetizer are great, my skill just doesn’t match. Most of my bacon jam melted away into the oil and/or soaked into the jalepeno. The last try I nailed it until I took a bite in which every part of the inside was left in a puddle on my plate, in which I used the jalapeño as a spoon and ate away.
    on a better note, I did turn this into a breakfast grilled cheese sandwich 🙂

  9. Great story and fantastic recipe. I will be making these very soon and tossing on the grill/smoker instead of frying. I just found your site and love it. Keep it up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *