Serious Eats: Chicago
TGI Fry-Day: Fried Jalapeño Poppers from Kuma's Corner
Editor's note: Every Friday we'll be bringing you the best food in Chicago that has been battered and fried. As long as it has spent some time in hot, bubbling oil, we'll write about it for TGI Fry-Day. Got a nomination? Let us know.
I'd all but forgotten jalapeño poppers—the ubiquitous frozen party snack from my New Year's Eves of yore. I loved those things. But as I've gotten older and my palate and I have decided to see other foods, my feelings toward my one time love have changed. When I bite into one now, the jalapeño inside tastes rubbery, the cheese processed-y, and the breading—which I would have considered crispy at one time—suffers the same fate that befalls all baked-from-frozen appetizers: it's mushy. I resigned myself to accepting that jalapeño poppers would spend their golden years out to pasture in my sweet memories alone.
Enter Kuma's Corner, the lauded harbinger of raging death metal and monstrous, overloaded burgers. Kuma's has recently fallen from grace in certain local food circles. And it's even been suggested that Kuma's torch has been passed to the younger Bad Apple. This topic has been addressed by another old favorite, Tenacious D. I've always appreciated the D's tongue in cheek interpretations better than their heavy metal source material, but when I recently ordered Kuma's Fried Jalapeño Poppers ($12.00), I knew I had made the pick of destiny.
Jalapeños are stuffed with cream cheese and chorizo, breaded in Panko, and popped in the fryer until they're nice and crisp. They're served with a pleasantly tart and spicy jalapeño raspberry jam that nicely cuts the richness of the cheese and sausage. While I could handle a bit more spiciness from the chiles, I appreciate how subtle they are. Judging by the rest of the menu, this might be the only item on it that can claim that distinction.
Now that jalapeño poppers are back in my life, I want to make up for lost time. Help me out, Chicago Serious Eaters: are there any jalapeño poppers out there I should be checking out?