This post marks Day 3 of Miss Ginsu's 2008 Advent Calendar. To find other days and other projects, use the calendar page to navigate.
Knowing one or two dead simple (and deadly delicious) hors d'oeuvres around the holidays comes in handy for the harried host.
Even better, I'm going to reveal a recipe that relies on things you can keep around the house for a bit... they just lie in wait until some unassuming guest happens to drop by.
I'm referring to Devils on Horseback... a sweet n' savory treat you might also know as "stuffed dates wrapped in bacon," but isn't the former name a little more romantic than the latter?
You need only a handful of dried dates, some bacon strips, paper-thin prosciutto or serrano ham and a wee bit of blue cheese. Have any water chestnuts or almonds? All the better...
If you're going with bacon, you may also want to fasten the meat in place with toothpicks (soak them in water for about 10 minutes first... it prevents burning in the oven), but I don't generally need toothpicks when I use serrano or prosciutto.
When that lucky holiday guest arrives, fix him or her a drink and excuse yourself for just a moment.
In just a few minutes, you can toss a few of these together and open up a full-bodied red wine. Maybe go with a Spanish tempranillo, since these little treats are so tapas-ready.
Devils on Horseback(Makes a dozen)
12 large dates, pitted
6 slices bacon, halved crosswise
OR 12 4" x 2" strips of serrano ham/prosciutto.
1/4 cup crumbled Stilton cheese
OR 6 water chestnuts (halved) (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 375°F and soak 12 toothpicks in a small bowl filled with water for about 10 minutes.
2. Set a wire rack on a baking sheet and set aside.
3. Halve the ugliest side of the dates lengthwise, but don't cut all the way through.
4. Place a small amount of cheese (if using) in the center of each date. Bury an almond or water chestnut (if using) in the cheese.
5. Wrap a piece of bacon/ham around each date and secure the tails with a moistened toothpick.
6. Place the prepared dates on the baking rack, and cook until browned and cooked through — about 20 to 25 minutes.
7. Drain/cool for 2 to 3 minutes on paper towels before serving.
Some baby arugula or fresh watercress makes a nice bed for serving them, but it's an optional nicety... once you've had a bite, you won't care a bit about the presentation.