I like beer. In particular I like British beer. Ergo I like places that serve British beer (note the unassailable, ironclad chain of logic here – my law school professors would be so proud). Fortunately for me, in the Cincinnati metro area we happen to have a couple locations of the British-themed pub chain which, in an epiphanous stroke of fiendishly brilliant marketing creativity, is called “The Pub”. It’s one of my preferred places to hang out with my wife and friends to enjoy adult beverages and, of course, some delicious victuals. I have included a link below to The Pub’s homepage for your viewing pleasure.
We have certain favorite menu items that we regularly like to order as accompaniments to the aforementioned adult beverages, such as the oh-so-delightful-but-not-so-good-for-my-girlish-figure Cheese Bollocks – those round, deep-fried balls of breaded, melty, cheesy goodness. They also had [note the past tense] bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese and served with a spicy ranch dip, but sadly those little drool-inducing beauties were recently dropped from the menu. It is this latter dish that my Laura will, on occasion, practically beg me to make at home, her eyes wild with bacon-inspired lust as she shakes me by the shoulders screaming “Make the dates! Damn you, man, for the love of all that’s holy, make the [bleep]ing dates!” Okay, maybe that’s a tiny bit of hyperbole, but the point is that she really likes those [bleep]ing dates.
My rendition of this appetizer recipe is super-simple but stunningly delicious as it brings together the natural, succulent sweetness of Medjool dates with the salt and smokiness of the bacon, and the unique texture and flavor of Chevre, the classic French goat cheese. If you’ve never had Medjool dates, crawl out from under whatever rock you’ve been living under and remedy that unspeakable deficiency forthwith. Biting into a fresh Medjool is – how can I describe it? – on a par with certain sensual pleasures that are generally consigned to more disreputable websites, but without the need to delete your browsing history.
Our ingredient list to make two dozen dates, enough for about 6 servings, consists of only three ingredients:
- 24 Medjool dates
- 12 slices of bacon, cut in half
- 4 oz. Chevre with honey
If you can’t find Chevre already made with honey, you’ll need a fourth ingredient, which is: yep, you guessed it – honey. Just stir a tablespoon of honey in with your regular Chevre, or use none at all if you prefer, since the dates are already pretty sweet in their own right. You’ll also need a couple dozen toothpicks.
Start by slicing open each date lengthwise with a paring knife and removing the pit. Next, stuff the dates with enough Chevre to just fill the cavity. Lastly, wrap each date with one of the half slices of bacon and skewer it with a toothpick to hold it together during cooking. Arrange the dates in a large skillet over medium-low heat, and slowly cook until well browned on all sides.
You will probably notice that the toothpick gets in the way a bit as you cook, so you can just push it all to one side to allow better maneuverability, or just remove it altogether partway through cooking if you can do that without the bacon falling off the dates. When you’re done cooking, drain the dates on a paper towel for a few minutes while you make your dipping sauce, which is just a half cup of Ranch dressing with 1-2 tbsp. of Sriracha stirred in, depending on how spicy you like it.
There you have it – the dish that makes my sweet, gentle Laura turn into a ravening, bacon-crazed fanatic. Munch it down with a big happy grin on your face. Until next time: Eat well, my friends!