Smoked Dates with Bacon and Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese Recipe
½ Pound Parmigiano-Reggiano
30 Pitted dates (preferably Medjool)
10 – 5 strips of unsmoked bacon
Cut bacon into 3-inch length pieces. Don’t use the wide fatty ends of the bacon; save them for other dishes, such as baked beans. Or use center-cut bacon.
Center-cut bacon doesn’t have the fatty ends, and it is generally meatier.
Cut cheese ¼″ wide x ¼″ thick x 1″ long.
If dates are not slit, make a slit lengthways so that the dates can be opened up.
Check to make sure there are no parts of the pit left.
Stuff 1 piece of cheese into each date
Wrap 1 piece of bacon around each date, securing it with a pick.
Hot Smoking Directions:
You want to hot smoke when you want to melt the cheese. To further cook the ingredients you stuffed with, and/or have wrapped the dates with uncooked bacon, or other uncooked meats. If using pancetta, you may want to hot smoke to reduce some fat.
Preheat the smoke generator, and cabinet to 250°F.
Arrange stuffed dates on a wire rack so that there is at least ½ inch space between dates (use the jerky racks if you are using small dates).
Load dates into the smoker, close the vent to ¼ – ⅓ opening, and apply smoke for 20-40 minutes (I used apple).
Continue to cook until the bacon is done. If you want crispy bacon:
Remove dates from the smoker after you have applied the smoke
Arrange dates on a large-rimmed baking sheet lined with either parchment paper or aluminum foil.
Bake in a preheated 450°F oven until the bacon is golden and crisp (monitor closely to prevent the bacon from burning).
Remove from smoker or oven.
Transfer to paper towels to drain; let cool slightly before serving.
Cold Smoking Directions:
You want to cold smoke when there is no further cooking required, or if you want to finish cooking the dates in an oven, or if you want to smoke plain dates ahead of time.
The following directions are for cold smoking plain dates ahead of time. Place in a sealable bag, refrigerate and they will last indefinitely. This technique can also be applied to stuffed dates.
Preheat the smoke generator, unplug the heating element and leave the vent wide open.
Since the dates are only going to be smoked for 20 minutes (40 minutes maximum) you will not have to use the cold smoke setup; if you don’t want to.
Before placing dates in the smoker, open the door and leave it open until the cabinet has cooled.
Open dates and place the open end down on the wire racks, leaving at least ½ inch between them. If using smaller dates, use the jerky racks.
Load dates, close vent to ¼ – ⅓ opening, and apply smoke for 20-40 minutes of smoke (I used apple).
Remove dates from the smoker, allow to cool, then store in a sealable plastic bag and refrigerate for later use.
How to get smoke flavor without smoking:
Use smoked bacon instead of unsmoked bacon.
Wrap with other thinly cut smoked meats.
Stuff with a smoked cheese.
Use smoked almonds, or other smoked nuts to stuff with.
Use prosciutto instead of bacon, and use the cold smoke method.
Try different cheeses, such as cheddar, gouda, herbed feta etc.
Stuff with peanut butter or almond paste.
Try using different nuts such as almonds, walnuts, pecans, and Brazilian nuts.
Stuff with unsweetened dried shredded coconut.
As you can see, the choices are endless.
Dates can be served warm or at room temperature.