Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Armadillo eggs recipe

armadillo eggs

Once a year, a reader shoots me an email asking when I’ll be writing about armadillo eggs. At first I said, “Uh, armadillos are mammals—they don’t lay eggs!” But soon I realized that he was talking about a certain jalapeño appetizer. Unfortunately, however, writing about armadillo eggs isn’t as simple as it may appear, as there are several different thoughts about what this finger food should be.

My reader’s interpretation of the dish is that it’s a baked jalapeño that’s been stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon. I’ve seen others label these bacon-wrapped jalapeños as armadillo eggs, too. But I was always taught that the name for this dish was ABT. (I’ll let you discover on your own what the letters stand for, as it’s a bit too colorful for me.) ABTs also can be grilled or smoked, the latter of which makes them a popular snack on the championship barbecue circuit. While you’re waiting for your brisket to become tender, you can keep people happy with a plate of ABTs.

Then there are the cheese-stuffed jalapeños that have been breaded and fried, which are also known as armadillo eggs. I, however, have always thought of that snack as a jalapeño popper.

armadillo eggs

So what’s my idea of an armadillo egg?

In my experience, it’s always been a whole, halved or quartered jalapeño, which has been stuffed with cheese, rolled in uncooked sausage and then crusted with breadcrumbs before baking or grilling. Though sometimes the breading step will be eliminated with no loss of impact or flavor.

I’ve read in some places that this version was invented in Lubbock at Texas Tech. Though there were similar recipes printed in newspapers back in the 1980s that called for certain brand-name ingredients, which made me wonder if perhaps a food company didn’t create the recipe instead.

That said, the first mention of armadillo eggs I was able to find was from 1972 in a Victoria, Texas Advocate article about an armadillo festival the town was holding. Amongst the festival’s offerings was a group selling armadillo eggs along with dill pickles. I don’t know what their interpretation of the dish was, but if it involved jalapeños, I reckon it was good.

When I make my armadillo eggs, I adapt a recipe created by the Southfork Ranch. (If you’re a fan of the TV show “Dallas,” the ranch is indeed a real place, though I don’t think anyone named J.R. Ewing or Miss Ellie lives there.) Their version is simple—quartered jalapeños stuffed with cheddar, wrapped in sausage and baked. Sure, the cheddar lends a yolk effect to the "eggs" when sliced in half. But I combine softened cream cheese with the cheddar, as I adore how its cool creaminess complements the hot jalapeños.

armadillo eggs

What do you know as armadillo eggs? Here's my version, which may be different than yours, but they are still outstanding. And even if nobody is certain on what to call them, I can be sure that you won't be able to eat just one.

Armadillo eggs
Ingredients:
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup yellow cheddar cheese, shredded (2 ounces)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt to taste
6 medium-sized jalapeños
2 pounds breakfast sausage or any other spicy uncooked sausage, removed from its casing

Method:
Preheat the oven to 375 and lightly grease a baking sheet.

Mix together the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, garlic, cilantro and cumin until well blended. Taste and add salt, and adjust seasonings.

Remove the stems from the jalapeños and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and then cut the sliced jalapeños in half, horizontally.

Place about a teaspoon of the cream cheese filling in each jalapeño quarter. Take about 1/3 cup of the sausage and pat it into a 3-inch circle and place the stuffed jalapeño in the center of the sausage. Wrap the sausage around the stuffed jalapeño until it’s completely covered, and form into an egg shape.

Place sausage-wrapped jalapeños on the sheet, about an inch apart. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the sausage is cooked. For additional browning on top, you can place the sheet under the broiler for 2-5 minutes.

Serve with buttermilk dressing, queso or salsa.

Yield: 24 armadillo eggs

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71 comments:

DessertForTwo said...

I finally get why they're called armadillo eggs! The creamy cheddar in the center looks yolk-y! Oh, Lisa, what would I do without you? How would I explain to my Yankee friends these things without your help? I've also had an olive salad that was called armadillo egg salad. Odd.

Anonymous said...

These are similar to Scotch eggs - hard boiled eggs wrapped in raw sausage meat and then deep fried. And it's obvious why those are called eggs, so perhaps that's how these got the name by analogy?

Duncan said...

Hi Lisa,

I'm on the way to town for the ingredients...

BTW, did you go to the NYChilifest?

duncan

Deb and Blake said...

I LOVE armadillo eggs! I live about 80 miles north of Dallas. Our version of the armadillo egg is a jalapeno (canned, packed in oil) cut in half and seeds removed, stuffed with a chunk of colby-jack cheese, then rolled in a mixture of sausage mixed with Bisquick then you roll it in OvenFry for Pork and bake. Delicious!

Anna said...

I think my mom mixed rice with the sausage and likely used a whole or half jalapeno, as we are a pretty spicy loving bunch. I should make an adaptation using Gimme Lean veggie sausage!

Meredith said...

Armadillo eggs are one of my favorite indulgences! My mother makes them every year at Christmas. Our recipe consists of whole jalapenos (from a can) stuffed with cream cheese, and then wrapped in a maple flavored sausage. The combination of spicy, sweet, creamy is really satisfying.

Susan said...

I'm sold on this 'play around recipe'! When I can get decent jalapenos, I'll be testing it out!

Sarah said...

I never understood why they were called eggs either! My husband and I used to eat them at Billy Bob's Steak, Bluegrass and BBQ on the Savannah waterfront when we were dating. Little did we know then that we would end up in TX one day!
I was perusing your blog last night as I was making my meal list. I got sad reading about the great food in Austin. We miss it SO much!

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

These are making my mouth water and I just had lunch...

I had no idea that such deliciousness existed in th world! This summer when I have a million jalapenos, oh yeah...babee....I'm making these...

Tommy said...

That recipe sounds devine. I love jalapeno popper type appetizers, so this will go over nicely.

Texan Scotch eggs. Looks so easy to make too.

p.s. never figured out what ABT means.

cycler said...

Oh my goodness, it might be worth watching the Superbowl, if only to have an excuse to make these as a snack!

Janus said...

As someone else already said, your version sounds a lot like a Scotch egg. If you go to YouTube, there are a lot of videos about Scotch eggs, but here is my favorite:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3dxTsJHzvI

Since you're scooping out the seeds from the jalapenos, how is the heat level affected? I figure that it that brings it down some, but how much?

What do you consider a "medium-sized" jalapeno? And if you start with six jalapenos, and split them in half, isn't the yield 12 armadillo eggs instead of 24?

Anonymous said...

Tommy,

ABT is a tough one because you assume the 'A' is for armadillo. And for at least a few other reasons. There certainly aren't any clues here. I had to try a few different Google searches before I could find somebody who spelled out the acronym.

I will post it here since it's not really worthy of censor, even if Lisa didn't want to sully her keyboard with it.

Atomic Buffalo Turds

Figs, Bay, Wine said...

Wow. Sort of like the Scotch Eggs I grew up with, except I actually want to eat these. A lot. The site looks great by the way!

Tasty Eats At Home said...

While i have had countless numbers of jalapeño cheese stuffed fried things, vie never had one with sausage. This sounds so good! And I don't think anyone lives at south fork...I live about 5 miles from there and all I ever see are events! Lol

Anna said...

Now that dinner's been taken care of, let's have some dessert: Armadillo Droppings!

Paul said...

Lisa, your version is great and as always you are correct! A favorite Southern breakfast dish, "Scotch Eggs" is a soft boiled egg wrapped in uncooked sausage, then breaded and baked. I then would serve them with cream gravy. Yum! Thus Armadillo eggs are a zippy take on Scotch eggs or maybe just a happenstance that they resemble each other! Congrats on your book deal!

Cilantro said...

You are correct--they are just Scotch Eggs with a jalapeno replacing the hardboiled egg. I've always thought that was how they got the name. And now I want one.

Steve said...

Lisa,
Thanks for this post. I had decided to get out the smoker this weekend, despite all the NJ snow, and do a brisket. Had also planned to make some ABT (an Okie knows from ABTs!) But I think I'll pass and just do these Armadillo Eggs.
Steve
http://www.myfavoriteflavours.com

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

DessertForTwo--I'd completely forgotten about green olives also being called armadillo eggs, but that's right--the Jamison's have a recipe for a marinated green salad that they call armadillo eggs.

Anon--Of course! How could I forget about Scotch eggs!

Duncan--I did not go this year, but have in the past. Always fun!

Deb and Blake--I bet they're nice and tangy with canned jalapeños.

Anna--Rice with the sausage? Now that's an idea!

Meredith--I love that you use maple sausage, as you're right--sweet, spicy and creamy is an excellent combination.

Susan--Have fun with it!

Sarah--I hear you! I miss it, too!

Rocky Mountain Woman--Yep, they're an excellent way to use up some jalapeños!

Tommy--Of course! I completely forgot about Scotch eggs but that's obviously where they get their name. As for ABT, see below--it's not bad, just a bit vulgar!

Cycler--That's my favorite reason to watch the game--for the food!

Janus--I reckon it brings it down a notch, though jalapeños vary so much in their heat these days. I'd say a medium is 3-4 inches, and they're quartered, so that's 24.

Anon--Ha! Thank you!

Figs, Bay, Wine--I'd take a jalapeño over a hard-boiled egg any day!

Tasty Eat At Home--These are meaty, but good. And can you believe I've never been to South Fork? I'll have to drive by it next time I'm headed up to McKinney.

Anna--I'd completely forgotten about those!

Paul--The one Scotch egg I had was cold, so I wasn't a fan. But yours sound delicious, especially with cream gravy. And thanks! The book will be out in the fall.

Cilantro--You're so correct!

Steve--They are perfect with brisket!

Caroline Shields said...

I have no version of the eggs to share, b/c this is the first I have heard of them. I know I'm a northerner but my college roommate from Dallas never mentioned them... maybe she was trying to keep them a secret.

Anonymous said...

We often order amrmadillo eggs from a resteraunt called Buzzard Billy's here in Waco, TX Their version is a half a jalapeno stuffed with cheese wrapped in chicken breast and then wrapped with bacon forming a ball shape. Then they are friend. So good.

Rebecca said...

I've never even thought to get all creative and add other ingredients to the cheeses. Since I'm stuck in this Chicago blizzard and missing Texas big time (although, I hear it's cold there, too), this might be on the menu tonight. Thanks!

Jeff said...

Lisa,
I love you . Yep, around Katy, the bacon wrapped ones are what we call AE's. The ones you describe are closer to the Scotch eggs. And I think I'll serving both on Sunday!

urnotfromtx said...

Hey Lisa-

My family has been making something similar for a long time...Was thinking I could substitute Ground Beef for the Sausage - but not sure what spices to use. Any thoughts?

Also, when you get the schedule for your book tour, please us know. I am waiting!

Lisa

Susan Rose said...

OMGosh! I've never had these, but they sure look good. I'm wondering if there is a smaller pepper of similar heat that could be used whole? (It might be easier to wrap.)

Ashweekins said...

Hey Lisa,

There's a restaurant in Kemah, TX called T-Bone Tom's. They were featured on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dive's TV show. As a local Houstonian, and local to the Clear Lake area, I had never heard of T-Bone Tom's until I saw the show. Their Armadillo Eggs are HUGE and delicious. Here's a link to the episode on Youtube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MOia1_ef4E

Thanks for your blog! I enjoy reading it.

-Ashley

Auburn Meadow Farm said...

OH MY!

Thanks so much, this was right on time for me. I needed something inspired for an office Super Bowl party and this was it - I'm completely hooked on the buttermilk dressing too, thanks again.

lisa is cooking said...

I'm embarrassed to admit I'd never heard of armadillo eggs! I love the yellow cheddar in the middle of the jalapeno for a yolk effect though. Sounds like a snack I need to get better acquainted with.

gkimmilou said...

love it! These were a staple at family gatherings growing up. The only difference was was that my aunt would leave the stem on and they were simply referred to as " armadillos. Quite the treasured memory! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

What a great, yummy idea - especially for the third day in a row when the high temp has been NINETEEN DEGREES, with sub-zero windchills...in TEXAS! Thanks for the recipe and, we're so sorry, Packers and Steelers fans - last Saturday was 80'!

Anonymous said...

Oh, dangit. Now I'm going to go nuts trying to figure out what ABT stands for. I'm not good at these things. Dangit. Like a song that won't leave my head.

Austin Realname said...

Can't believe I've never heard of armadillo eggs, but poppers have long been a favorite. I'll have to make these.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Caroline--Maybe she was! Though I've ran into a few people that didn't know about them so perhaps that was the case.

Anon--Oh, yum! That sounds decadent!

Rebecca--You're very welcome. Keep warm!

Jeff--Thank you for the inspiration!

Lisa--I think you could definitely do that. I'd add chili powder or cumin, garlic and ancho-chile powder to the ground beef. Basically, season it like you'd season taco meat or your favorite spicy burger. And I'll definitely let you know when I'm headed out on my book tour!

Susan--I don't know of a smaller pepper with less heat, as generally the smaller peppers have more heat! I find that once you remove the seeds, however, jalapeños aren't that hot.

Ashweekins--Thanks for the link!

Auburn Meadow Farm--You're very welcome. Enjoy!

Lisa is Cooking--Yes, you should definitely get to know them!

Gkimmilou--Now that's cute!

Anon--It's colder in Texas than it is in New York. How nuts is that?

Anon--Read the above comments and you'll find the answer.

Ausin--Enjoy! They'd be great at Grandma's Fourth of July party, grilled!

Anonymous said...

As an ex-pat Texan living in Northern Maryland, I have been living by your recipes the last several years. Will be making these for the game, just have to pick up some cilantro.
Thanks! Max
ABT = After Burn Tommorrow!

Shelley said...

Your photographer deserves a whole nest of armadillo eggs. As an exiled Texan, I find myself staring at the pictures....

Katie@Cozydelicious said...

Wow, what a great snack! I love how hard you work at researching foods. It's so fun to know that these were served at a festival in the '70s!

Sarah said...

I just made up a nest of these for Superbowl snacks tomorrow. I baked them (rolled in bread crumbs) 3 ways,with canned jalapenos,raw jalapenos,and even a couple with bacon (mmmm!) rather than sausage. I made the sausage ones with the maple flavor someone suggested here.I tried one of each when they were done,& they are ALL fantastic! We grow & LOVE jalapenos(don't ALL Texans?)and these are way better than the poppers I tried before.I also added some jalapeno Monterrey jack in the cheese blend. Wonderful! Thank you so much for another great Texas recipe!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Max--You're very welcome. And I love your interpretation of ABT!

Shelley--Thank you! Though you should stop staring and start cooking!

Katie--Thank you. I have to admit, the research is almost as fun as the cooking!

Sarah--Oh, yum! I'll have to try it with maple sausage--that sounds like it adds the perfect balance of sweet with savory. So pleased y'all enjoyed them!

Anonymous said...

I have a trick for seeding jalepenos I'm proud of: get an old-fashioned carrot/potato peeler, and after cutting off the stem of the jalepeno, just insert the blade of the peeler and slice out the membrane down to the tip (with a sweeping circular motion). You can now turn the jap upsidedown and just dump out the seeds and membrane.

Turns out that the peeler is the perfect shape for this job, and we've already got one.

I think I may have to make a batch of these for the game tomorrow!

Anonymous said...

This is a great recipe!

homegrown countrygirl said...

Just like the Texans, to come up with a fabulous jalapeno twist to scotch eggs! Love this! Thank you, Lisa!

jerrie lee said...

curious what the dish in the picture contains. can't think of needing something to dip these in but would like to try it your way first time if there is a preferred condiment to go with them.

thanks!

jerrie lee

jerrie lee said...

never mind. with that maple sausage and ground coriander instead of cilantro (because i had it already) they are absolutely fabulous!!!!!!!!!

Evil Shenanigans said...

We love armadillo eggs. I have had them stuffed with all kinds of goodness from shrimp to shredded BBQ chicken. One of my favorites was an armadillo egg filled with chorizo, cheddar, and cream cheese which was then breaded, wrapped in bacon and then deep fried. It was SOOOO good!

Chis said...

Lisa,

these look delicious. thanks for sharing some of the history and showing us your method for doing it. i cant wait to make some for myself now. is this really popular in texas? and have you made it a hit in new york yet?

Chis said...

here's another version of it i found...the jalepeño popper: http://kblog.lunchboxbunch.com/

Cheri (aka "The Mom Lady") said...

I guess you saw this commercial already but in case you didn't, check it out as it will make you uber homesick for Texas! I know you'll appreciate it. :)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XM2y5GlnyJ8

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Anon--What a great tip!

Anon--Thank you!

Homegrown Countrygirl--Texans sure do love their jalapeños!

Jerrie Lee--It's buttermilk dressing.

Evil Shenanigans--Now that sounds completely decadent!

Chris--My friends sure did enjoy them!

jerrie lee said...

oh does buttermilk dressing add something wondrous. that does sound good. will check your blog for that recipe. I am thinking it's not for sale in oregon. :)

Mary said...

I made these for a superbowl party, they were a hit! I didn't cut the jalapeno's in half (horizontal) so they turned out the size of ostrich eggs, but everyone loved nontheless.

deb said...

Lisa, they look really good! as with other comments, they do seem to be related to scotch eggs. I am going to see if I can find fresh jalapenos in my part of the world! Yum

Jolene said...

omg - these sound heavenly! i can't wait to try them. as for poppers, i always hated the generic breaded ones at restaurants; the ones i make are similar to yours. i have the jalapenos and stuff with cream cheese AND a small strip of fajita-seasoned steak, them wrap in the bacon and broil them. i serve them with heinz 57 sauce to dip. last time i made 50 to grill at a family bbq & found that my cousin bill ate 24 of them as he was cooking them! can't wait to bring your ABT's over!!! thanks for the recipes!

Jolene in MN

p.s. wondering what the 57 sauce mixed with ranch would taste like? hmm...

Susan Tomlinson said...

I think these are what are called "besos calientes" at two of our restaurants here in Lubbock.

Ayn said...

Making these for a party tonight (and I'm going to try making a batch with vegetarian sausage, too--will report back on the success)!

Should they be served warm or at room temperature?

Thanks!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Ayn--Serve warm!

Anonymous said...

I will be making these very soon, I was always told armadillo eggs were Jalapenos cut in half and stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon and thrown on the grill or in the oven.

Anonymous said...

I have grown up knowing the armadillo eggs to be the ones from T-Bone Tom's in Kemah, Tx. This restaurant is minutes from my house and feature the eggs as an appetizer. I usually just get them as my dinner. Their armadillo eggs are made of brisket with a jalapeno slice and then fried. Delicious.

Ashley- Buchanan County said...

I made these this weekend as an appetizer for Christmas eve and everyone LOVED them! Thanks for the recipe- they are delicious!

linda said...

For all you deer hunters or if you can get your hands on some venision pan sausage. Do her above recipe but wrap the stuffed jalapeno with homemade venision pan sausage and wrap it with maple bacon. Just that touch of sweetness from the bacon makes a difference to me.

Anonymous said...

If you use Neufchatel for the cream cheese and use 2% cheddar, each Armadillo Egg yields 110 calories. I love your blog. I bought your book. Keep it up!

~another homesick Texan living just south of Portlandia

Kelli said...

We make them, and call them Armadillo
Eggs, except ours are the halved jalapenos (fresh), stuffed with pepper jack, encased in Jimmy Dean HOT sausage, then we roll the 'egg' in spicy cajun fish fry before baking. They are HOT and addictive! I love them!! I've been making them smaller, as meatballs, as well (just chopping the pepper finely, mixing with the cheese and sausage, then rolling in the coating). So good!!

carrie said...

Thanks for sharing this unique recipe - my husband and I loved them! We had them with salsa and really liked that pairing.

Shelbyrlff said...

I grew up on this version of armadillo eggs:

Jimmy Dean sausage stuff with a pickled jalepeno and a cube of velveeta, then covered in a crescent roll and baked until delicious. It's definitely not fancy or healthy by any stretch of the imagination, but from someone who doesn't even like breakfast sausage, it is so very good!

Cassandra from CA said...

Delicious recipe! My boyfriend happens to be a homesick Texan, and I decided to make him something special from our garden (which is full of jalapenos!). I found your recipe and got to it. I used the spicy Jimmy Dean sausage and was so excited at how these eggs were going to turn out. My only issue was I misread your recipe and I used the WHOLE jalapeno! Oh we were sweating, our noses were running, my boyfriend couldn't stop hiccuping, and I ran straight to the kitchen for the milk! My boyfriend said these were great and his Granny would be proud to see me make something like this (meanwhile I was suffering from the extreme heat of using a whole one). Nevertheless, they were delicious!! And I plan to make them again very soon... paying a little more attention to the recipe this time :)

david said...

my parents made these when i was a kid and have been hooked since!

adrienne said...

i've lived in texas for 19 years and somehow i've never heard of armadillo eggs!

but i have been making a recipe for the past 3 years that is very similar.. turkey meatballs with goat cheese and jalapenos. i chop the jalapenos and spread the goat cheese throughout the turkey and spice mixture.

i think i could "blend" these recipes together and it would make turkey meatballs at my house much faster to prepare (especially since there are very few left after making a batch)

dbrown77586 said...

Love the cookbook! I will be making this for a company potluck this Thursday. Californian's won't know what to think of them!

Sandy said...

There's a bbq joint on I-45 south of Houston that makes their armadillo eggs by stuffing a cleaned out jalapeno with brisket, breaded, and then deep-fried. The best!

Sandy

Anonymous said...

MY version of an armadillo is involves a chicken breast, jalepenos, motzerella(sp), bacon, and seasonings of my choice. I season my chicken and cut a hole in the middle, like a pouch. Then I seed the jalepeno and put it in and layer with cheese. I put the top back on the chicken and wrap in bacon and use toothpicks to secure. I then throw it on the grill. It's a main dish instead of an appitizer.

sara winston said...

Armadillo eggs! Great recipe. The recipe that was used at our parties - they added shake n bake pork chop mix to the sausage. It was also yummy! So glad you posted this.

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