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Scorpion Tails

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Paula Disbrowe | Food Editor

These fiery appetizers from my first cookbook, Cowgirl Cuisine, are a play on jalapeño poppers, arguably the most beloved bar (or behind-the-wheel) snack in Texas. Broiling the peppers (as opposed to breading and frying them) allows the unique character of the jalapeño and the creamy, flavorful filling to shine. For an attractive presentation, consider serving them over pequillo pepper sauce (see Cook’s Tip).

16 large jalapeño peppers
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup grated cotija, queso añejo or other aged white cheese
1/2 cup corn kernels
1 egg
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Dash hot sauce, to taste

1. Slice the stems off jalapeños and reserve. Using a paring knife, slice a vertical V-shaped opening into the sides of each pepper. Gently spread the opening and use a paring knife to remove ribs and seeds.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese to soften, then add cotija, corn, egg, garlic, cumin, basil, salt, pepper and hot sauce, and beat at low speed until blended. Refrigerate filling in a covered container at least 30 minutes or up to several hours.

3. Using a butter knife, fill each pepper with about 2 tablespoons of cheese filling. Top each pepper with the stem (frost stem inside with filling so it will adhere to pepper) and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate peppers at least 1 hour before broiling.

4. When you’re ready to serve, unwrap peppers and broil until blistered but not overly blackened. If bottoms of peppers are still bright green, finish peppers at 350 degrees to warm through.

Serves 4–6.

Cook’s Tips

Serve Scorpion Tails over pequillo pepper sauce. Purée one 8- or 10-ounce jar of drained and stemmed pequillo peppers, 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and 1 teaspoon sherry wine vinegar. Heat sauce gently just before serving, then place peppers atop a few tablespoons of the sauce. 

From Cowgirl Cuisine: Rustic Recipes and Cowgirl Adventures From a Texas Ranch (William Morrow, 2007)

1 Comment Post Your Comment »

I was gifted Paula’s ‘Cowgirl’ cookbook about when it came out. I have made a good impression following her recipes at the tiny gatherings I contribute food to. Key word is ‘following’ - Scorp Tails are labor-intensive but sooo worth it. DO chill the filling overnight. DO use the listed cheeses. DO find the Pequillo peppers for the sauce topping. Broiling til browned not blackened makes huge diff. Can ya tell I’ve made these a few times?! My cooks’ tip: using a serrated grapefruit spoon to gut the jalapenos during prep is much easier than a paring knife. I made a huge batch of 30 recently for a fete and gobbled down 5 before I could stop myself! best, Sk Meyer PEC Canyon Lake, TX.
Charles Lohrmann - Austin, TX - (November 8, 2017)