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Bacon Wrapped Figs and Dates
The first place I ever had a bacon wrapped fig was at a trendy restaurant in downtown Franklin, TN. It's called Gray's On Main, which is an upscale, but casual restaurant. They are best known for being a pre-prohibition craft bar, but originally they were Gray's Pharmacy. This building has stood attached to a string of downtown shops for 120 years, but for the better part of a decade, has remained empty. Renovated, the first floor consists of a kitchen and dining area, the second, a mezzanine for live musical performances, dining and a bar with both stools for sitting around the bar and tables for standing around. The third floor is for members only with a view of the stage and audience below.
If I remember right, you have to have reservations to eat downstairs, or pay a cover charge to sit upstairs and watch the band. We opted for the "stand-around-tables." After a long day at work, I really would have preferred sitting and frankly, conversation was impossible. Even though the band seemed quite a ways away, they might as well have been performing on our table. As unique as the place is, and as good as the food was, I don't have any plans to return soon, but I can tell you I left with one thing on my mind, "Bacon wrapped figs are amazing!"
There are so many possibilities. The simplest way is not to fill them at all. Just a fig, sliced in half, 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 dates. If you want to fill them, use a 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 are going to use uncooked bacon, you should cut the slices in half as you don't want the inner part of the roll going uncooked. When I buy bacon, I buy low-sodium, but if that's not a necessity, skip the low sodium this time. The sweet of the fig/date needs the salty of the bacon to wrestle with. It just adds so much flavor.
Now, 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. I used dates this last time, which were very good, but personally I prefer the figs. Though a cast iron skillet works well, a cookie sheet does the same job just as well. This is an assemble - then bake dish. There's 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.
If using microwave bacon, wrap whole piece of bacon around fig.
Place on lightly sprayed cookie sheet or in a cast iron skillet.
In cast iron skillet (or saucepan) bring balsamic vinigar 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. Place in the balsamic reduction.
Serve as appetizer or side dish. If cooked in cast iron, figs can be served right in pan.
I used a 9 oz. pkg of dates, two pkg's of microwave bacon (2.1 oz per pkg) 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.