Sunday, July 14, 2013

Easy Appetizer - Bacon Wrapped Dates

We went to the Market Square Farmers Market on Saturday to pick up a few things.  While there, Alexis got her favorite thing from the Savory and Sweet food truck - bacon wrapped, almond stuffed dates.

My favorite thing is their smoked pork tacos with chipotle cream, fantastic.

I have seen bacon wrapped dates appearing on menus all over the place in the past two years, so I guess they are a trendy appetizer.   I thought I'd try my hand at smoking some on my Big Green Egg.  Instead of almonds, I decided to use a seasoned goat cheese, smoked sausage, and slivers of jalapeno.  I reasoned that if bacon was good, prosciutto would be even better but it didn't work out that way.  The ones wrapped in prosciutto weren't as good as the ones we did in bacon, we think because it is so lean and these need the fat from the bacon. 

They are pretty simple to make since the dates come pitted and already sliced.   You can do these in your oven but they taste better cooked in a smoker or indirect on a grill.

Bacon Wrapped Dates with Parmesan Cream Sauce

Prep Time: 20
Cook Time: 1 hour to 90 minutes

Ingredients (serves 24)
    You'll Need
    • 6 slices smoked bacon, quartered into 4 strips
    • 24 Medjool dates
    • 3 oz goat cheese
    • 1 jalapeno
    • 6 smoked cocktail wieners
    • 1 Tbsp BBQ rub
    Parmesan cream sauce
    • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
    • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan
    • 1.5 tsp lemon juice
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp sugar
    • 1/8 tsp red pepper flake
    • 1/8 tsp white pepper
    • 1/8 tsp black pepper
    • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 Tbsp olive oil
    1. Make the parmesan cream sauce by mixing together all of the ingredients except the olive oil and then slowly whisk in the olive oil. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
    2. Prep - Quarter the bacon by cutting each strip in half lengthwise and then side ways. De-seed the jalapeno and cut it into 24 1" long matchsticks (won't use the whole chile). Cut the cocktail wieners into quarters lengthwise.
    3. Assemble the dates - Open a date and stuff with a piece of jalapeno, meat, and a piece of cheese. Close it, put it on a bacon strip and roll up. Season lightly with the BBQ rub. Repeat 23 more times. (NOTE: Some people use toothpicks to secure the bacon strip. I find that if you put it seam side down, the toothpicks aren't necessary.)
    4. Set up a smoker for 250f. Smoke the dates until the bacon is crisp, about 90 minutes. Alternatively, you could do these in your oven, just follow the package directions for baking the bacon in an oven.
    5. Serve with the Parmesan cheese sauce.
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    Our goat cheese was Cypress Grove "Purple Haze".   It had a lot of flavor, I'd buy it again.

    The dates were easy to stuff.

    Top are wrapped in prosciutto, bottom in bacon.

    I added a handful of soaked hickory chips to the coals for smoke.  I normally don't soak my chips....I left them out in the rain so I used them that way.

    The saltiness of the dressing helps balance the sweet of the dates.

    The food truck area is set up right next to a cavernous alleyway that is bedazzled with some incredible graffiti art like this.

    If you want to see some of the cool work by the artists, you can see them at my rarely used photo blog - An Instant Out Of Time.  I update that blog like once a year, whether it needs it or not. 

    The next time you need a quick appetizer, think about stuffed dates.  They are trendy, tasty, and easy to adapt with your own favorite flavors.