Saturday, January 21, 2017

Chicken-Stuffed Dates

This was the other recipe on The Chew that I decided to make, minus the sauerkraut.  The ground meat and sausage selections were limited on the day I shopped, and I ended up with some ground chicken.

The reason dates are often stuffed with sausage and wrapped in bacon isn't merely because it's yummy. You need the extra fat to keep the filling from being too dense.  And considering I picked up chicken, I really had to come up with a way to keep it from becoming a lump of meat in a date.

I decided to add coconut oil for the added fat necessary to keep the meat from clumping.  In addition, I set the filled dates on a rack above a little water and wrapped the whole thing in foil before putting it in the oven.  By steaming the dates, any extra oil had somewhere to run, and the dates themselves stayed moist.  The faint coconut flavor that stayed in the pieces was a nice accompaniment.  For those who do not wish to use coconut oil, regular shortening will produce the same result, minus the flavor.

16 Medjool dates (seriously, it made exactly 16)
1/2 lb chicken (or lamb if you can find it)
*1/2 C finely diced onion
*1/2 tsp cumin
*1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
dash pepper
2 Tb coconut oil or shortening

1.  Combine ground meat, onion, and spices.  Work in oil or shortening.  Refrigerate for 1 hour to let flavors meld.
2.  Pit dates by slicing them longways and pulling out the pit.  You now have a slit-open date that is still attached in the back.  Also check the stem end for any hard bits.

3.  Start preheating the oven to 400º.  Set a rack in a baking pan and pour no more than 1/4" water in the bottom.  Spoon about 1 Tb meat mixture into each date and set on rack.  When finished, cover pan tightly in foil.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Check internal temperature of one of the middle pieces.  If not quite 165º, continue to cook in 5 minute increments.  Serve hot.

Makes 16 pieces, about 8 hors d'oeuvres servings

Difficulty rating  π

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