Here is a scrumptious and mouth-watering appetizer that you can nosh on this holiday weekend. The idea isn’t a new one, but it’s different and so delicious that it deserves some new recognition – Bacon-Wrapped Dates. How can you go wrong with bacon as one of the main ingredients? The pitted medjool dates are wrapped in bacon and then generously coated with a sugar mixture that has a mild hint of heat from chipotle pepper. The bacon becomes a crunchy and savory sweet wrapper that is caramelized from the sugar, and the fleshy date gives this wonderful explosion of sweetness. The total cooking time is about 30 minutes but they are so worth a warm kitchen. Serve them warm, with cold Cosmopolitan’s (David makes the best!) or your favorite beer. Now it’s time for a game of horseshoes in the backyard!
There is a trick to getting the bacon to cook completely after it’s wrapped around the dates: pre-cook the slices until they almost done before rolling up the dates. Then the bacon dates get well-coated in the sugar mixture and go back in the oven to caramelize and finish crisping up the bacon. My favorite bacon is the all natural kind without any added nitrates or nitrites (when on sale, I buy four or five packs and freeze until needed). It has better flavor, more meat and is better for me. I also recommend using medjool dates, originally from Morocco (were reserved for royalty) and grown in California and Arizona. They are larger, about 3 times, than the bagged dates in the grocery aisle and have more fruit that stands up to the cooking process. I found them in the produce department of my local grocery store. The sugar mixture is made with brown sugar, chipotle pepper powder, cumin, salt and pepper. It’s the magic that transforms two ingredients into delicious little candy bites. Enjoy!
Have a wonderful, food-filled July 4th weekend celebration. Be safe – eat well and share the love!
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Serves two foodies (make 5 to 7 bacon dates)
Total Prep Time: 15 minutes Total Cooking Time: 30 minutes
375 degrees F
5 to 7 medjool dates
5 to 7 slices of good bacon, ¼ of end trimmed
Spicy Sugar Mixture
1/3 cup brown sugar (packed)
¼ teaspoon chipotle chile powder (or cayenne pepper)
1/8 teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
Pre-cook the bacon slices:
Prep: Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F and line a sheet with parchment paper.
You won’t need the whole piece of bacon to wrap around the date; cut off the last quarter of the bacon slices and save for later (store in small Ziploc bag and freeze), separate and lay the bacon slices on the sheet pan. Bake in the oven for 14 to 15 minutes until bacon is almost done. Turn bacon slices over at 9 minutes.
Spicy Sugar Mixture:
While the bacon is pre-cooking, make the spicy sugar: Add all the ingredients to a medium bowl and mix well with a fork. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to use so it won’t cake together.
When done, remove bacon from the oven and let rest for a few minutes to cool. To roll the bacon around the dates, place the date at one end of the bacon slice and roll up to cover most of the date. Lightly dip the bacon-wrapped date in the bacon grease on the sheet pan and then in the spicy sugar mixture. Liberally coat the whole surface with the sugar and return to sheet pan, seam-side down.
Cook for another 13 to 15 minutes until the bacon is just starting to crisp up and turn dark. Let cool and serve warm.
- To remove the pits from the dates: Use a paring knife to cut a small hole in the end of the date and gently squeeze the pit out with your thumb and forefinger. If needed, use the paring knife to coax the pit out. Don’t worry if the date tears while removing the date; the bacon will cover it all up.
- Bacon-Wrapped Dates can be made one day ahead (store covered in the refrigerator) and reheated before serving – 375 degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes until bacon is just bubbling.