Want a great, mostly make-aheadable, and oh! so tasty munchie for your holiday (or, really, anyday) gathering?
Grab a date (I cheat and buy the pre-pitted), wrap it in bacon, add a bit of your fave steak seasoning (I’m partial to Gateway to the North Maple Garlic Seasoning), and bake. An old classic, right?
Oooh, but what if I’ve stuffed the date with some primo blue cheese, and used duck bacon?
I came across this packet of bacon in my local market and, even tho’ I go for the uncured stuff, decided it looked too good to pass up.
•Gateway to the North Maple Garlic Seasoning (OR your favorite steak or smoky seasoning blend)
*I used some incroyable! Montforte Bleu from Wisconsin. Poke around your own local cheese shoppe, take a nibble or three, and choose the best you can fine.
Cut the bacon slices in half and slice and crumble the blue cheese.
Stuff a bit of blue cheese into the date, then roll the half-slice of bacon around the date and secure with a toothpick.
Note: I usually do this the day before, and stash the wrapped dates in a gallon sized zipper bag in the fridge until I’m ready to finish ’em off.
About an hour before you plan to serve, heat your oven to 375º and remove the bacon wrapped dates from the fridge.
Line a large baking pan with foil (makes clean up a whole lot easier), fit a rack into the pan, and lightly apply cooking spray.
Arrange the wrapped dates in a single layer on the rack and season all sides with the Gateway to the North (or your preferred smoky seasoning).
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the bacon is cooked and crisp.
The really, really good, creamy, rich, really good (did I say that already?) bleu cheese, melted into the date, wrapped in the slightly unexpected – but perfect – duck bacon, with the maple and garlic and lightly smoky seasoning is just about the perfect combination of sweet and savory and smoke.
As a handy guide, one (12 oz) packet of thick sliced duck bacon will wrap one (12 oz) tub of pitted dates, with enough bacon leftover to do another four dates or so, if you have ’em lying around.
Of course, you could always just skip the extra dates and cook the remaining bacon for yourself.
Either way, you win.