Tuesday, September 4, 2012

How to make Nolan and Bill's Armadillo Eggs

    My family likes to cook and I think we have a fair share of good cooks in both my immediate household and in the family I grew up with. If you invite us to a party, we likely won't be the ones bringing the bag of chips, or vegetable tray, not that these things aren't needed, they just won't come from us.  My brother's wife suggested last week that they bring cookies to a neighbor's shindig and a 2 day fight ensued.  We are serious about our food. They ended up bringing pulled pork shooters and they were delicious.  We found this dish about 7 years ago, but didn't like the way it was done at the party we were at, so we adapted it and made it a go-to dish for us to share with our friends.  

Our last batch of Armadillo Eggs in a round chafer
     Why does Nolan get top billing for these?  When we first made them, he had the ability to roll them smaller, so since that day, we always make them together. Char helps out a lot, but I'll always think of Nolan first when we make them.  The recipe is not hard, but it does take time, so be prepared.  The ingredients for making a batch of 60 or so are, 12 Hungarian Wax peppers, 3-4 eggs, 2-3 cups of bread crumbs, 3-8 oz bricks of cream cheese, and about 5lbs of mild-hot Italian sausage patties (or raw links).  You'll find other recipes where these are breaded on the outside and a couple where they are wrapped in bacon, but we like our variation better.  The breading doesn't add anything to the taste, and while bacon makes everything taste better, you don't really need it for this dish, they taste great already. 

     The first step in making the Armadillo Eggs is to wash and dry the Hungarian Peppers.  Once that is
Ingredients layed out, slicing the peppers
completed, you are ready to slice them.  I like to wear gloves for this part, as you might forget you were working with peppers later in the day, and lick your fingers or something worse and get a big surprise.  The slices should be uniform in size, about 1/3 of a inch wide, depending on the pepper.  We like to make these bite size, so we know the size pepper chunk that we have to start with.  Other recipes I've seen use jalapenos sliced lengthwise, and then using the stuffed halves, or capping the half with the top of the jalapeno and then breading it, but we like this size and taste best.  So, you slice the Hungarian Pepper in 1/3" slices using as much as the pepper as possible. When you get towards the end, you may want to split the slice to allow more cream cheese into the bite, that's a personal preference.  Do you remove the seeds?  That's no fun if you do, and as a matter of fact, we like to play a game called Armadillo Egg Roulette where we bring these to a
The starting of the stuffing process
party and watch the reactions of the people eating them, based on the hotness, largely based on the amount of seeds left in. I tend to use them all and in fact pick up the remaining seeds with the cream cheese filled peppers.  I have to offer a quick thank you to my friend Crystal who educated me about whether I used Banana Peppers or Hungarian Wax Peppers for this dish.  She runs a successful produce market near us and let me know Banana Peppers have virtually no heat, so they can be used for this dish, but they are not nearly as much fun.  The heat dissipates quickly though, so as hot as one as you might get, you can go back for another pretty quickly.  Another shout out to my sister, She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named for supplying some of the peppers for this last batch from her garden. 

     The next step is to fill the sliced peppers with cream cheese.  It's kind of self explanatory, but take non-
Nolan demonstrating the Roll
whipped cream cheese and completely stuff the pepper ring and lay it aside.  If you have leftover seeds, feel free to pick them up with the stuffed peppers as you go along.   We like to use a mixture of hot and mild sausage, so the heat really comes from the pepper.  Next, you need to make a sausage meatloaf of sorts.  Take your sausage patties (or remove the sausage from the hank), and add a few eggs.  Work the bread crumbs in with your hands until the mixture is tacky to the touch, but malleable.  We don't overuse the bread crumbs, so the other flavors can come through.  It's now time to enrobe the stuffed pepper.  My method is to take a few ounces in my palm and flatten it, then take the pepper and place it in the center and roll
the outside sausage in and around the pepper, and then roll it in your hands a few times to make it as ball shaped as possible.  Since they are called Eggs, it's okay if they come out oval.  The best technique puts as little sausage as possible around the pepper but keeps the cream cheese inside while they cook.  In order to make mine as small as Nolan and Char's, I always have to go back and pick sausage off and re-roll, but I can get there eventually.  Bite sized is the key, as these are hard to bite into, but easy to pop a whole one in your mouth.  As you roll them, place them in a baking dish that you have previously sprayed with Pam.  When you are done rolling, they are ready for the oven. 

     Preheat the oven to 350-375 and bake them for 25-30 minutes.   I like to roll them or turn them around in
I highly recommend using a pretty blonde assistant.
the pan to ensure a good look to all sides of the Armadillo Egg and if they don't look dark enough on the outside, feel free to broil them for a minute to get the desired color.  If you've made them correctly, they'll tell you when they are done, as the thinner ones will split slightly and start to ooze the cream cheese out.  One of those is a good one to test too, so let it cool for a minute, slice it with a sharp knife and if it's cooked throughout, pop it in your mouth and enjoy an Armadillo Egg.  If you bring these to a party, they are best enjoyed warm so keep them in a crock pot on low, or in a chafing dish or on a warming tray.   There are two other variations that I'd consider using, and the first is to cook these in a smoker.  That's not a bad flavor to add to these.  The 2nd is to coat the outside with a red BBQ sauce and to glaze them.  My wife is not a big fan of BBQ, so I generally don't do this, but I've got a cowboy cookout to go to in a few weeks and I thought I'd try them out there.  So that is the whole recipe, let us know if you try it out and feel free to give us credit, unless of course you play Armadillo Egg Roulette, then you are on your own. 

Finished product


cdyarger said...

I love to see Nolan cook with his dad, and this is one he loves to help with! Enjoy!

Gayle Hendershot said...

This makes me hungry. I wish you would make these for me. I feel too lazy after work, but would love to try these if someone else did the prep.

Anonymous said...

7 sliced rings per average pepper and each cream cheese brick fills 49 rings or 7 peppers