My mom asked me to bring a few hors d’oeuvres to a family dinner we had a while back, and as I had some luscious Medjool dates and a bag of baby potatoes in the fridge, I decided to whip up a combo platter of two of my favorite hot nibbles.
Both are wrapped in bacon and finish roasted on sheet trays in the oven, so if you have all the ingredients they are fun to make together for a little variety on the platter. Obviously, they can be made individually as well, and are easily modified to adapt to your own personal taste.
The Devils on Horseback are essentially pitted dates that are then stuffed, wrapped in bacon and roasted. (The name stems from Cornwall in the south of England at the turn of the last millenium, where Norman raiders would disguise themselves is suits of armour covered with rashers of bacon. This armour had many advantages; Primarily it’s grotesque appearance was used to frighten villagers. Then, when the job was done, the armour could be cooked and eaten. “Devils on horseback” was the nickname of these bacon-clad warriors).
I chose a combo of blue cheese and marcona almonds as a filling but almost anything goes here as long as the dates and bacon are kept in place. Use a different cheese, eliminate the nuts and add a dried fruit instead….how about a spoonful of your favorite spicy chutney?
For those at your gathering who prefer not to nosh on sweet things before dinner, the potato poppers offer a nice alternative. Blanched, seasoned and “baconized” – these little nuggets get dipped in a sriracha dipping sauce before eating and in the end taste like little baby twice baked potatoes.
Can you say YUM? Yes….I knew you could.
Cheers – Steve
Devils on Horseback and Spicy Potato Poppers
for the potatoes:
- 1 pound baby potatoes (any color)
- 2-3 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, chives, (or some combination of all)
- 1 tablespoon EVOO
- freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
- 12 ounces bacon
- 1 cup sour cream
- 3+ teaspoons sriracha (or other) hot sauce
for the "Devils":
- 24 Medjool dates
- 12 slices of bacon
- 48 marcona almonds
- 1/3 -1/2 cup of cubed blue cheese of your choice (I used Roquefort)
- Heat the oven to 400℉.
for the "poppers":
- Rinse the potatoes, then cut them into halves or quarters (depending on their size) so that they are "poppable". Take care to make them all roughly the same size so that they cook evenly. Put the potatoes in a pot of well salted water and set over high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling cook for 3-4 minutes, just until you can poke them with a paring knife and meet little resistance. The potatoes should be just undercooked so that they maintain their shape as they finish cooking in the oven.
- Drain the potatoes and toss them in a bowl with the EVOO and minced herbs. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Be careful with the salt because don't forget that the bacon with bring some to the party too.
- Cut the bacon strips into thirds, wrap each potato in bacon and skewer it with a toothpick. Place them on a foil lined baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes. Flip them over, then cook for an addition 15 minutes until the bacon has rendered its fat and is crispy.
- Meanwhile make the dipping sauce by whisking the hot sauce into the sour cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Lay the poppers out onto a platter and serve with the dipping sauce.
for the "Devils":
- Pit the dates and stuff each with a small spoonful of cheese and two almonds. Wrap each with 1/2 slice of bacon and skewer them with a toothpick. Cook as you would the poppers (in fact, they can be cooked on the same sheet tray if you wish). Let them cool slightly, then serve them up alongside the potato poppers.