This post is sponsored by Uncommon Flavors of Europe. As always, all opinions are my own.
Go ahead and put these Speck Wrapped Dates in the ugly-but-irresistible appetizer file. They’ll fit in just fine with the Crispy Roasted Potato Skins, I’m sure. These odd looking creations aren’t likely to win any beauty contests at your next holiday party, but they might just cause a frenzy of excitement as soon as someone is curious enough to try them.
Bacon wrapped dates have long been on my go-to appetizer list. You might already know and love this crowd-pleasing recipe, or you might think I’m crazy. I’ll admit, the combination didn’t strike me as particularly appetizing at first glance. Hooooo boy was I way off on that assumption. The sweet dates, smoky meat, and tangy goat cheese work like magic. It may not make sense on paper, but trust me, it’ll make tons of sense on your tastebuds.
This year I decided to kick my favorite appetizer up a notch with some special additions. First, I swapped the bacon for Speck Alto Adige, the other cured meat. While prosciutto has been winning hearts and menus for awhile now, speck has been sitting quietly back, waiting for its time in the spotlight. Friends, that time is now.
Like prosciutto, Speck Alto Adige is a cured pork product, but while prosciutto is salted, spiced, and dried, speck gets a boost of flavor from the added step of smoking. The resulting meat is intensely savory, with a firm texture and smoky aftertaste that makes it a perfect grown-up substitute for bacon. I’ve been putting it on my grilled cheese, chopping it into eggs, even threading it with sweet potatoes. But most importantly, and more to the point, I’ve been wrapping it around goat cheese stuffed dates and losing my mind a little bit.
My other special addition is a small sprinkling of chopped rosemary in the goat cheese and a little pot of honey for dipping. If you want a little heat, feel free to stir a pinch of cayenne into the honey. It’s divine.
The process for these is pretty straight forward. I slice the dates longways and open them up, stuff with the rosemary goat cheese, close, and wrap with speck. I found the speck stayed in place pretty well without toothpicks, but feel free to use them if you prefer. I bake these until the meat is crisped and the insides are toasty warm. They can be served warm or at room temperature, but I don’t recommend serving them straight from the oven. Speck Wrapped Dates are like Hot Pockets in one way and one way only: if you eat them right after cooking, they will most definitely burn your tastebuds off.
While speck wrapped dates may not be the loveliest appetizer to ever grace a holiday spread, they do look quite wonderful on a platter with Parmesan cheese slices, crackers, Marcona almonds, more sliced speck, and pears. A few sprigs of rosemary and sage add a festive flair and an irresistible holiday scent. This is the perfect munching platter pre or post Thanksgiving dinner, and a great recipe to have in your back pocket all season long.
Speck Wrapped Dates
- 12 ounces dried Medjool dates
- 8 ounces thinly sliced Speck Alto Adige
- 4 ounces goat cheese
- 2 sprigs rosemary, roughly chopped
- Honey and a sprinkling of cayenne, for serving, if desired
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Slice the dates longwise, leaving the bottom intact, and open them up like a book. Stir together the goat cheese and rosemary then spoon into the dates (it's about a teaspoon of goat cheese for each one). Wrap the speck around the dates and place them seam side down on the baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the speck is browned and crisp. Drain any excess grease on a paper towel. Serve the dates warm or at room temperature with honey and cayenne, if desired.
If you're interested in serving this in a platter as shown above, add additional slices of speck, Parmesan cheese, Marcona almonds, sliced pear, and crackers to the platter before serving.