Bacon and all things pork captured the heart of the foodie community in 2010, and the trend doesn’t seem to be waning too much, as most Americans I know wouldn’t dare say no to an hors d’oeuvre wrapped in the cured smoked meat. Whether it’s hot dogs or scallops or the lowly date, we will eat it if you wrap it in bacon, bacon, and more bacon!
In the past year I’ve had several versions of the bacon-wrapped date, the most notable ones coming from Avec, a trendy, wine bar from Chicago restaurateur Paul Kahan, and from Café Ba Ba Reba, a traditional Spanish tapas joint that’s been serving Chicagoans for over 25 years.
At Avec, where the communal tables force you to sit hip to hip (or fork to fork, however you want to think about it) with strangers, the dates are stuffed with spicy chorizo, wrapped in bacon, and served with a finger-lickin-good piquillo pepper-tomato sauce. At Ba Ba Reba, where the sangria pitchers flow like water, the dates are stuffed with Manchego cheese and wrapped in chorizo. Wowzers!
While I’d love to eventually make some of those chorizo-stuffed dates and douse them with spicy tomato sauce, I decided to begin at the beginning and make the classic version of this recipe—a simple but palate-pleasing dish that awakens the senses. It’s salty. It’s sweet. It’s crunchy. It’s soft. It’s everything you ever wanted in one little appetizer. And, of course, there’s bacon, which will please pretty much everyone except the vegans and vegetarians (sorry guys!). But, if you were really desperate, maybe veggie bacon would work here, too, although I can’t say I’ve ever tried it. However, I think you could sub in turkey bacon if you like. Either way, you’re going to love this recipe, and your guests will too. As my mom says, “These things will disappear faster than you can make ’em!”
Allow two dates per person when serving as an appetizer. This recipe serves 6. Medjool dates are plump and juicy, but any other date will do as long as it’s large enough to stuff. Click here to download a copy of this recipe.
12 Medjool dates
Crumbled blue cheese
Slivered or sliced almonds, toasted and chopped
6 slices of bacon, cut in half horizontally
Special equipment: toothpicks, a two-layer broiler pan or a sheet pan with a wire rack.
Preheat oven to 375˚F. Make an incision lengthwise down one side of each date, open it up slightly, and remove the pit from the center. Stuff a small amount of the blue cheese and a few pieces of almond into each date. Wrap one bacon half around each date and secure with a toothpick.
Lay foil on the bottom half of the boiler pan to catch the dripping bacon fat, and then cover it with the top half of the pan. Arrange the bacon-wrapped dates on the broiler pan, leaving some space between each date. Bake the dates in the middle of the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the bacon has crisped. Remove from the oven and let cool several minutes before serving. Can be served warm or room temperature