Bacon Wrapped Figs and Dates
The first place I ever had a bacon wrapped fig was at a trendy restaurant in downtown Franklin, TN called Gray's On Main. It's an upscale, but casual restaurant created inside the walls of an 1876 Victorian building. They are best known for being a pre-prohibition craft bar, but originally they were known as Gray's Pharmacy. This building has been standing attached to a string of downtown shops for 120 years, but for the better part of a decade, it remained empty. Finally renovated in 2013, the first floor consists of a kitchen and dining area, the second, a mezzanine for live musical performances, dining and a bar lined with stools. The third floor is for members only which boasts a view directly over center stage and the audience below.
They are unique, the food fantastic and we've been many times, but after we experienced an amazing appetizer that first visit I left with one thing on my mind, "When can we have bacon wrapped figs again?!"
There are so many small variations that can be made. The simplest way is not to fill them at all. Just a fig, pitted, with a piece of bacon wrapped around it and cooked in a small iron cast skillet. But consider some options. If you don't have figs on hand, you can use pitted dates. If you want to fill them, make a slice in the center, and fill with a small dollop of soft cheese. Goat's cheese is perfect, but if aged cheeses don't agree with you, you can use a simple cream cheese, which is very affordable. You can use raw bacon or pre-cooked (the kind you microwave), regular or low-sodium, you could even use Pancetta and wrap the fig in a blanket with the Pancetta cinched with a toothpick on top. The microwave bacon was way less fatty and oily and you don't have to cut it in half, so one less step. If you use uncooked bacon, just use your kitchen sheers to cut the bacon in half. (You don't want the bacon too thick or it won't cook through.) Then just wrap it with the ends tucked under.
The sweet of the fig/date needs the salty of the bacon to wrestle with. It just adds so much flavor. I liked the balsamic glaze Gray's adds so I add one too, though I've made these without and they were still marvelous. You can buy a glaze bottled for about $5 and just drizzle it over the top or make your own reduction. You might like to drizzle some honey thinly over the top if you're not a fan of balsamic vinaigrette.
Do you like a little kick? You could add a tiny piece of jalapeno to the center or a dash of red pepper. A favorite nut could be added to the center as well. You can use fresh figs or dried. I like using dried dates usually found packaged in the produce department, not just for ease, but for taste. But try both and see which you prefer.
Though a cast iron skillet makes a beautiful, rustic presentation, a cookie sheet does the same job just as well. This is a simple assemble - then bake dish. There are just a few steps so let's get started!
- 1 pkg Figs or dates, pitted
- Sliced bacon
- 1 pkg Soft cheese, goat's cheese, or cream cheese
- 3/4 Cup Balsamic vinigar
Slice the figs/dates length wise, remove pits or buy without pits.
If you choose to fill them, insert a dollop of soft cheese goat's or cream cheese.
If using uncooked bacon, cut in half and wrap around fig, then insert toothpick to secure bacon or just wrap with bacon tucked under.
If using microwave bacon, wrap whole piece of bacon around fig.
Place on lightly sprayed cookie sheet or in a cast iron skillet.
In separate pan bring balsamic vinegar to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 min. until it has reduced. Set aside.
Bake wrapped figs at 400 degrees for 10 min. or until bacon is golden, not dark brown. Drizzle balsamic reduction over the top to serve. If using fresh figs, they should back at 375 for about 30 min. Or until figs are soft and bacon cooked through.
Serve as appetizer or side dish. If cooked in cast iron, figs can be served right in pan.
I commonly use a 9 oz. pkg of dates, one pkg of uncooked bacon (or two pkg's of microwave bacon), and a half a bar of cream cheese.
Step by step
Special thanks go to my incredible photographer, Lily Ellis. Without her good eye and keen skill, this hub would not be possible. Thank you Ms. Ellis for lending your great talent to my meager effort.
© 2015 Elisabeth Ellis