Football food to be sure. First of all, dates look like footballs, if you squint your eyes just a bit. Second, they're wrapped in bacon...as in pig-skin...as in football. Third, you can toss them into your mouth just like Russel Wilson will be tossing the pig-skin into Richard Sherman's hands as he leaps into the end zone. Need I say more?
As a kid I seem to remember eating one or two of these at one of my parent's parties...but maybe that's just wishful thinking...pretending I have a family history of eating bacon wrapped dates makes me smile. As an appetizer, bacon wrapped dates have been around 4-ehhhhhver. In the past, pitted dates were wrapped with bacon and baked and that was usually all it took to get a few raves. Now, however, dates are stuffed with all kinds of things that can elicit all kinds of oohs and aahs. I've tried them stuffed with almonds, onions, garlic and peppers, and while they all added their own little sumpthin', I now prefer to stuff my dates with Gorgonzola cheese. Bacon wrapped dates stuffed with Gorgonzola cheese, a game-day-winning-appetizer-touch-down!
Because these are pitted dates, they already have an opening, making it very easy to stuff them with gorgonzola cheese. You can use gorgonzola cheese crumbles, which is what I used because that's what I had in my fridge, or you can buy a wedge of gorgonzola and slice off little pieces - either way works. Once the dates are stuffed and pinched slightly so they stay together, they are wrapped in a piece of bacon, secured with a toothpick and they're ready for the oven. Let them bake for 15 minutes while you enjoy the half-time show. They only need a little bit of time to cool once out of the oven, just until you can pick them up with your fingers because they are great warm or cold. Make a bunch, they'll fly off the plate faster than Manning's helmet after a sack!
15 dates, pitted
1 container (8 oz.) Gorgonzola cheese crumbles (You will only use a little bit of the cheese)
5 strips bacon, raw, cut into thirds (do not use thick cut bacon)
15 wooden toothpicks
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Open dates and stuff with pieces of gorgonzola cheese. Pinch slightly to seal the cheese inside the date. Wrap one piece of bacon around date and secure with a toothpick. Place on parchment/silpat lined, rimmed baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes. Turn dates over and bake for additional 8 minutes or until bacon is crispy and done. Total baking time 16 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven, transfer to a paper-towel lined plate and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Serve warm or cold. Makes 15. Refrigerate any leftovers...as if.
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