Monday, December 07, 2015

Bacon and Dates

According to my sources, bacon wrapped stuffed dates have been a popular appetizer for a while, but I guess I missed that. Perhaps I don't eat at the right restaurants.

For Thanksgiving I was asked to bring stuffing and an apple crisp. I also brought a pecan pie because pie and Thanksgiving just go together. My lovely daughter brought the stuffed dates, although I helped heavily with the making of them.

We started with moist, large, pitted dates. If your dates aren't moist you may want to steam them briefly before starting, because some of the moisture is cooked off while the bacon cooks.

I like blue cheese with walnuts and since the recipe called for walnuts, we included a nubbin of good quality blue cheese, too. Warm melty cheese is always a treat. Each slice of bacon was cut in thirds and used to wrap three stuffed dates, so make sure you have enough bacon. If your bacon strips are short ones, you may even need to only wrap two dates per strip of bacon...extra bacon can be used for other purposed, right?

I pre-heated some cast iron skillets in the oven and added the stuffed dates to them which helped crisp up the bacon. They weren't fully cooked because we re-warmed them at the home where we were dining.

I warn you, these can be addictive! Who can resist warm and crisp bacon, soft and sweet date, crisp and mellow walnut and piquant blue cheese, all in one bite? Not me.

Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Dates

24 large moist medjool dates
8 or so walnuts, broken
1 oz. blue cheese
8-12 strips bacon - cut in two or three pieces depending on the length

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. If you have them, place two cast iron skillets in to preheat.

If dates have pits, remove the pits by slicing carefully from one end to the other with a paring knife and then removing the pit with the tip of the knife. Be sure to only cut the top of the date, NOT all the way through to the bottom. If your dates are not moist, steam them briefly before starting.

Stuff where the pits usually live with pieces of walnut and a nubbin of the blue cheese. You can use goat cheese if you prefer it to blue cheese.

Wrap a strip of bacon around the date, putting the stuffed part face down onto the bacon, overlapping the ends of the bacon on the opposite side. Secure with a toothpick.

If not using a cast iron skillet for baking, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the finished dates on the parchment.

Bake on the baking sheet or in the preheated skillets for about 8-10 minutes, turning over halfway. Bacon will start to turn golden and get slightly crispy on the edges. If you prefer, cook for another minute to cook the bacon a bit more.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 10-15 minutes before serving. Dates should be warm, not hot. They can also be served cold.

If you make them in advance, reheat them for a minute or two in the microwave if you prefer them warm.

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