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Cooking With Fire: Green Chile Chicken Poppers

Chef Tom Jackson / All Things Barbecue

It's all about the peppers.

A few days ago my wife and I went to visit some friends to meet their new baby girl.

We had a great time, we chatted, gave them advice on handling two children, or at least surviving it, and listened to music.

But the highlight of the afternoon was not the adorable child, but instead a bottle of hot sauce my friend gave me. With a simple inkjet label, no ingredients list, and a handwritten tag that noted it was for me, this wasn’t a bottle of store-bought sauce.


This green, peppery hot sauce had been made by my friend, and I was excited to get home to try it out.

Over the last few days I have been eating it on virtually everything, from eggs to chicken to rice and beans. It has the perfect kick and balance of vinegar and tomatillo — but in the end it’s all about the peppers.

Chili peppers have a long history. Central America gets the crown as the birthplace of chili peppers, but they quickly spread throughout the region from modern day Mexico and Texas to South America.

By the time Columbus reached the New World the pepper was an agricultural staple of the region. When he first tasted a chili he called it a pepper, incorrectly assuming it was related to black pepper plants he was accustomed to. Columbus brought seeds back with him to Europe and the pepper was on its way around the world, adding new flavors to food as both a vegetable and a spice.

In this Cooking With Fire podcast, Josh Cary continues his exploration of the pepper while Chef Tom Jackson prepares Green Chile Chicken Poppers on the grill.

Green Chile Chicken Poppers

8-10 servings

  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 oz smoked cheddar, grated
  • 4 oz pepper jack cheese, grated
  • 1 tbsp smoked salt
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp hot paprika
  • 4-5 Anaheim peppers, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
  • 8-10 chicken tenders
  • 8-10 slices classic cut bacon
  1. Fill the Anaheim pepper halves with the cream cheese filling. Top each with one chicken tender. Wrap one slice of bacon around each stuffed pepper and pin in place with toothpicks. Place on a sheet pan.
  2. Preheat your grill to 400ºF, set up for indirect grilling. 
  3. Grill over indirect heat until the internal temperature of the chicken tender reaches at least 155ºF-160ºF, and the bacon is cooked through, about 30 minutes.
Josh Cary may be the eCommerce Director at All Things Barbecue during the day, but at night he takes on the mantle of an award-winning Pitmaster, who has cooked on the competition barbecue circuit under various team names including ATBBQ, Yoder Smokers and the Que Tang Clan.
All Things Barbecue Staff Chef Tom Jackson is a Kansas native, born and raised in Wichita. In 2008 he and his wife moved to Portland, Oregon, where he attended Oregon Culinary Institute. Tom studied both general culinary skills as well as baking and pastry while working as a cook in a variety of restaurants. After graduating from Oregon Culinary Institute he began working as a bread baker and pastry chef at the renowned Ken’s Artisan Bakery in northwest Portland. He spent more than four years honing his skills under James Beard Award winning chef and owner Ken Forkish. In that time he and his wife had their first child, and the draw of home and family grew stronger. Longtime friends of the Cary family, owners of All Things Barbecue, they returned to Kansas to help All Things Barbecue continue to excel in their cooking classes. Tom has been further developing and building cooking classes and private events at All Things Barbecue since March 2014.