Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bacon-wrapped, Roasted Walnut-filled Prunes

I made this recipe last night for a cocktail party. I love things wrapped in bacon, and one of my favorite things at our local Venezuelan joint, Orinoco, is their bacon-wrapped, almond-stuffed dates.

I got this recipe from a Greek mezé cookbook given to me by the dean. It was delicious, but I have a few things I would do differently next time.

24 large, pitted prunes
1 1⁄2 cups dry red wine
1⁄2 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
24 walnut halves
24 thin strips of Canadian bacon or pancetta
6 slices whole-wheat bread, crusts removed, cut into quarters

1. Place the prunes in a bowl and marinate at room temperature with the wine and
peppercorns for 6 hours. Remove and drain. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a stain-
less-steel baking pan, large enough to fit the bread squares in one layer.

2. Stuff each of the prunes with one walnut half. Wrap one strip of bacon around each
prune and place each piece on one of the bread quarters. Secure with a toothpick.
Place the prunes in the pan and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the bacon has
crisped and the bread is golden.


First of all, not being forwardly looking enough, I only had 2 hours to prepare this, and if you read closely (as I didn't), you'll see that the prunes are to marinate for 6 hours in the wine. In order to speed this up, I zapped them for 1 minute in the microwave in the marinade and after soaking for an hour or so, I zapped them once more. In all, they probably marinated for an hour and a half, and I think they were sufficiently moist, but I didn't taste much of the wine flavor in the finished product. I'd like to compare this with the procedure called for in the recipe to see what difference the 6 hours make.

Secondly, I didn't use canadian bacon or pancetta. I used regular ol' American-style bacon (smoked poitrine, if you will). This is the kind of bacon I usually see "bacon-wrapped" dishes wrapped in, so I think this is a fine substitution. Unfortunately, I didn't notice that I had bought the maple "flavor" until after I had opened the package. I didn't even know such a thing existed. The maple flavor was quite strong (and this might also be a reason I didn't taste a subtle wine flavor?!). Anyway, I cut the strips of bacon in half and wrapped the stuffed prunes with that.

My last comment would be that--given I used a different kind of bacon--the prunes need to cook longer than the prescribed 15 minutes. I'd say it's closer to 30. I ran out of time and took them out earlier than I would have liked to, and I think the bacon could have definitely been crispier. They still tasted really nice, but crispier bacon would have definitely improved the dish as a whole. (I also didn't serve the bread with it since they had become soggy from the bacon drippings and did not get a chance to crisp up either.)

The Verdict: If you like bacon, dried plums, and nuts, definitely try this recipe! :-) It's easy to make and delicious. You might have to fool around with the oven times to make sure the bacon is crispy; but, if you do, I think you'll be making these anytime you have guests over!

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