I love food and beer pairings, especially cooking with beer. A few Christmas’s ago, I received a book called The Foodie’s Beer Book – The Art of Pairing and Cooking with Beer for Any Occasion by Brooke & Luther Fedora.
Recipes in this book are first broken out by season then further divided into regions and holidays, making it easy to find something for any occasions. For example, Summer Party at the Beach breaks out three courses with beer pairings perfect for a relaxing beach getaway.
The first recipe I tried comes from the summer season event called Beer Wedding. This is a cocktail menu recipe: Black Forest Bacon-Wrapped Dates filled with Pine Nut Butter. If you’re anything like me and enjoy dates and especially anything wrapped in bacon, you’ll love this recipe.
This recipe is fairly simple with minimal ingredients. For the record, this was the first time I went to the store to buy raw pine nuts. For those who have not purchased pine nuts before, they are pricier than expected. I thought I could find these with the other nuts varieties such as almonds, peanuts, walnuts, etc… That was not the case. I could either buy a small bag (less than 8 ounces) in the produce section for $11.00, or purchase from the bulk bins for $27.99/lb. Since I only needed a ½ cup, I opted to purchase from the bulk section to save some money.
- 18 large dates, pitted
- ½ cup pine nuts, toasted
- 2 cups + 2 tbsp of IPA beer
- 1/8 tsp salt and pepper
- Thick cut bacon
Remove pits from dates.
Best trick I found was using a toothpick to push them out. This leaves a nice hole throughout the center of the date and the perfect opening for filling with the Pine Nut Butter.
Toast pine nuts on stovetop.
Only takes a few minutes to get them a nice golden brown.
Combine toasted pine nuts with 2 tablespoons of IPA beer, salt and pepper. Use food processor or blender and blend until mixture resembles butter.
I started with my larger counter top KitchenAid Food Processor, but it was not blending enough. I then switched to my handheld Cuisinart Smart Stick with the chopper/grinder attachment and that seemed to do the trick.
Fill dates with pine nut butter using a piping bag and small round tip. If you do not have a piping bag, just use a regular sandwich bag and cut the corner off to create a tip.
After all dates are filled, refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the filling to firm up.
I found the filling to be rather oily, so this is definitely a step you don’t want to miss.
Once the 30 minutes is up, proceed to wrap the dates with the thick cut bacon and use a toothpick to secure in place.
I used an entire 1 lb package of thick cut bacon and cut each strip in half.
Place the bacon-wrapped dates in a deep dish (a brownie pan will work), and cover the dates with 2 cups of the IPA beer that was used in the pine butter. Cover with foil and the let dates marinate in the fridge for 1 hour.
Once the hour is up, remove the dates from the marinade. The beer marinade may be discarded.
Cook the dates at 425 degrees for approx. 30 minutes.
The original recipe said to cook for 12 minutes, but I found the bacon was not fully cooked during that time. I cooked the dates for 15 minutes and then rotated the dates and cooked them for an additional 15 minutes. Once the 30 minutes was up, I found the bacon to be golden brown and fully cooked.
It may be best to monitor and adjust based on your oven and cooking temperature.
Best served warm.
The book suggestions pairing this recipe with Union Jack IPA by Firestone Walker Brewing Company. I agree, that beer would pair well.
However, I always prefer to try using beers in my fridge (which there are many to choose from). I had three beers that I think would have worked well for this recipe. All three IPA’s have an earthier or even floral flavor and aroma to their hop character.
- Centennial IPA by Founder’s Brewing Company
- Sagefright IPA by Deschutes Brewing Company
- Minor Axident by Against the Grain Brewing & Smokehouse
I chose Minor Axident —
This DIPA pours a slightly hazy medium copper color with a nice persistent foamy off white head. The aroma has citrus and tropical on the nose. The flavor has a grassy, herbal-pine quality to it, with a touch of orange blossom in both flavor and aroma. Finish is not overly harsh for a DIPA, but more of a pleasant lingering bitterness. Medium mouthful and body with moderate carbonation. Definitely strongly hopped, but drinkable. I believe this beer was really well balanced and would pair with the saltiness of the bacon and sweetness of the dates. ABV: 8%