These Buffalo Chicken Jalapeño Poppers aren’t just a delicious option for snack, party, or anytime food, they also feature a mission-driven brand that I think is doing admirable work to bring a delicious, sustainable, and humane product to discerning consumers. These Buffalo Chicken Jalapeño Poppers feature a key ingredient that is important to source with care: chicken.
I don’t buy “free-range” or “cage-free” eggs.
The USDA’s definition of free-range is “producers must demonstrate to the Agency that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside” which can mean chicken spend their lives in dim warehouses, choking on dust and dung, dying of stress and crowding, with only a tiny bare yard as their “access to the outdoors”. Watch the 18-minute video below produced by PBS for more eye-opening education on the conditions of free-range and cage-free in the United States:
Chicken farmer Craig Watts says in the video, “‘All-natural’, what the heck does that mean?” and it’s a valid question that applies to all kinds of labels we see in the grocery store. Poultry producers are ready and willing to exploit a lack of regulation in their marketing claims, which camouflage the reality that their birds likely lived cooped up in small cages or huddled by the thousands in cage-free barns. Bad news for our health, the health of the planet, and the health of the chickens.
Enter pastured chicken.
The good news is that we as consumers can make a positive impact on the situation. While the poultry producers and regulatory entities cannot be relied upon to accurately communicate the conditions that their chickens are subjected to, there are brands undertaking the challenge of building an alternative system, and making transparency a cornerstone of their operations. Emmer & Co. is a San Francisco startup focused on producing the most delicious, sustainable, and humanely-raised 100% heritage chickens via partnerships with poultry operations where chickens are raised entirely outdoors, and by focusing on pasture rotations that enhance soil fertility.
Emmer & Co. pastured chicken results in a three-fold benefit:
First, pastured chickens have a role in the interconnected systems of a land management technique called regenerative agriculture. While the broken systems of factory farming result in environmental degradation, regenerative farming results in environmental rehabilitation.
Second, chickens that grow slowly—in accordance with their heritage breed—and have the ability to spend their days running, roosting, foraging, sun-bathing, and socializing (“exhibiting natural behaviors” as it’s called) outside on fresh pasture enjoy a much higher standard of animal welfare.
Third, Emmer & Co. works with a network of holistically-managed poultry producers to bring their chickens to market, creating new opportunities across the country to participate in meeting the rising demand for humanely-raised, environmentally-friendly, heritage chicken. 👩🏽🌾
Although “compliant” isn’t my favorite word, these Buffalo Chicken Jalapeño Poppers are, yes, compliant with a paleo and/or keto nutritional approach (even Whole30 compliant, depending on your choice of bacon).
That being said, if you can tolerate dairy then you are welcome to experiment with a more traditional version of buffalo chicken.
P.S. Shoutout to Primal Kitchen’s avocado oil mayonnaise, which rounds out the richness of the chicken’s flavor and balances the bite of Frank’s RedHot sauce. I encourage you to use this recipe as an occasion to invest in a jar of Primal Kitchen mayonnaise (I bought a jar at my local San Francisco co-op), or make your own mayonnaise at home, using avocado/macadamia oil and pastured eggs.
4 tbsp mayonnaise (I used the Primal Kitchen brand)
15 jalapeños, halved and seeds removed
4 slices of bacon
Place the slices of bacon in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook until the bacon is very browned and crispy, then remove it to a plate to drain, and pour off the fat from the skillet.
While the bacon cooks, mix the chicken, Frank’s RedHot sauce, and mayonnaise together in a medium bowl.
When the bacon has finished cooking, place the jalapeños in the skillet. Cook, turning occasionally, over medium heat until they are lightly seared on the edges and bottoms and beginning to soften. It may be necessary to cook them in batches. Place thejalapeño halves cut-side-down to drain on a plate when they are finished cooking.
Turning them cut-side-up as you go, spoon a generous portion of the filling into each jalapeño cavity.
Cut or crumble the bacon into small pieces, then top each popper with bacon bits and chives before serving.