I can’t believe I haven’t posted this before. Yes, The Goddess was holding out on you, and after you make this you’ll be ticked that she did. But, she’s trying to redeem herself here. It’s time to share. These will grace your appetizer table over and over. The combinations of flavor and texture are just sublime. This is a perfect appetizer or first course or lunch. It is a perfect holiday dish. It’s make-ahead and most importantly, it just tastes unbelievably delicious. First of all, you have bacon. You have chorizo. And you have dates. You have the savory chorizo, juxtaposed against the sweetness of the dates, all wrapped up in salty, smoky bacon finished with just the barest drizzle of honey. Speaking of the dates (did you like that segue?), if at all possible, spring for Medjool’s. They are larger, softer and just so spectacularly good. They are slightly more expensive, but in this case, it’s bang for your buck. Anyway, you have chorizo-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon, as if that weren’t enough, then you nap them with this spectacularly delicious red bell pepper sauce. So let’s talk about that sauce a bit, shall we? This sauce transcends good. And it’s a flexible, little minx of a sauce. I love this with chicken, eggs and particularly fish. It’s also great out of the pot with a spoon! It really does make a piece of tilapia or any other fish, for that matter, sing arias. But back to what we’re here for….
You can purchase fresh chorizo in many supermarkets these days. Or you can make your own Fresh Chorizo Sausage. It’s very simple to make and you can control the spices and salt and heat level; ground pork, spices, garlic with lots of paprika and cilantro, if you like it. The mixture makes a great burger, too.
About the dates…these dates have pits, but they are easy to “de-pit”. Usually Medjool’s have a little cap or stem end, which you remove. Then, with the point of a sharp knife, slit the date on one side only, pop the pit out and then using 1-2 teaspoons of the fresh chorizo, stuff it into the nice little pocket you just created. This can be done early in the day. Now, you wrap each little nugget in bacon. I partially cook or blanch the bacon before. This removes much of the fat and make the crisping easier later on. So this can all be one early in the day or even the day before. Cover and chill. I like to serve these at warm room temperature. If you try to serve them out of the oven, you’re probably going to permanently remove most of skin in your mouth. There’s nothing festive about that; these hold the heat like crazy.
For the sauce, sauté the onion, garlic, and the red bell peppers together. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer briefly. When the sauce is done, pour it into the serving dish or nap the date nuggets with it. I prefer the bottom, because the bacon stays crispier, but it’s still a gustatory delight either way.
Bacon-Wrapped, Chorizo-Stuffed Dates in Red Pepper Sauce
- Fresh Chorizo Sausage, or about 1/2 lb or 3 links if purchased
- 30 large pitted dates, slit from top to bottom on one side only*
- 15 slices smoked bacon, cut in half crosswise
Red Pepper Sauce
- 2 tablespoon olive oil (garlic flavored oil is great)
- 3/4 cup finely minced onion
- 2 teaspoons crushed garlic
- 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1 jalapeño pepper, finely diced with some seeds
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 15-oz can tomato puree
- 2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Honey for drizzling
*Medjool dates are perfect for this. Remove the stem cap, slit each date on one side only and pop the pit out.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
To prepare the dates: Stuff about 1-2 teaspoons of fresh chorizo into each date; when stuffed the date should be about the size of a large walnut. Wrap each date with 1/2 slice of bacon (this may be done up to 24 hours ahead; wrap in plastic and refrigerate); place the stuffed dates seam-side down in a skillet or on a cookie sheet with a rim. Place the dates in the preheated oven; bake for 15 minutes. Move the container to about 6 inches from the broiler. Turn the oven to broil and broil until the bacon crisps, about 1-2 minutes. Watch carefully as the bacon can burn easily. Never walk away from an oven when you are broiling!! When the bacon is crisp, remove the dates from the oven and return the oven temperature to 350F.
To prepare the sauce: While the dates are baking, heat a skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the oil. Add the onion, garlic and peppers to the hot oil. Lower the heat to medium and sauté until the onion is translucent and the peppers are partially tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add the wine and continue to cook until the wine is slightly reduced, about 3 minutes. Add the tomato puree and orange juice concentrate; stir until well combined. Bring to a simmer, lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the salt and pepper to taste; simmer for 1 minute. Pour the tomato/pepper mixture into an oven-proof serving dish. (This can be done up to 24 hours ahead; cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate.)
To finish the dish: Place the stuffed dates evenly in the dish and nap with the sauce. Place the dish in the oven and cook for about 10 minutes or until the tomato sauce is bubbly and thickened. Remove from the oven; let stand for at least 5 minutes; drizzle with honey and serve immediately. These hold the heat like crazy, and they are excellent at warm room temperature.
COOK’S NOTE: If made ahead and refrigerated, remove both the dates and the sauce from the fridge 1 hour before continuing with the recipe.
Bacon-Wrapped, Chorizo-Stuffed Dates in Red Pepper Sauce Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2016. All rights reserved.
That’s it! These are not only incredibly delicious, but they’re rather nice to look at, as well. Enjoy!