Poppers seem to top the culinary charts for many hunters. Most recipes combine pepper, cheese and game wrapped in a strip of bacon. Though I am a fan of bacon, I always end up thinking the end result is Bacon Poppers because it upstages the other ingredients then disintegrates into a pork lava mess on the first bite.
I decided it was time to make a popper where the bird stars with the right balance of heat and cheese that stays together while eating.
Hope you enjoy the results.
Ultimate Game Bird Poppers
- 4 cups Smoked Pheasant Two birds, smoked and deboned and shredded
- Wonton Wrappers
- 20 Jalapeños If you want more heat, increase number
- 2.5 cups Shredded Sharp Cheddar
- 12 oz Cream Cheese
- Peanut Oil
Shred/ chop the smoked pheasant — if you prefer a different flavor profile than smoked pheasant you could also slow cook the pheasant in a braising liquid until it is tender and falls from the bone.
Combine meat, peppers and cheeses.
Lay out a wonton wrapper, place about a tablespoon of filling in the center, wet the edge of the wonton with water and gently fold over and press to seal. Then fold in the corners to make the Pope's hat shape.
Heat oil to 350° — we normally use peanut oil for frying.
Drop poppers in the hot oil and flip. When brown and crisp remove.
Serve with tart jam or honey to contrast the heat. We like local honey with a squeeze of orange.
The recipe obviously makes a ton of poppers. Once assembled you can place poppers on a baking sheet and put them in the freezer. When frozen they can be stored in a container and used as needed depending on the number of guests.
The alternative to frying: Form the smoked pheasant and cheese mixture into a ball and serve with crackers. Instead of poppers you now have a Smoked Pheasant Cheese Ball with a jalapeño kick.