One of our favorite local restaurants in Chicago’s River North was Avec. It’s casual and fun, and you can try all kinds of different bites to share with your table. From time to time, we crave Avec’s chorizo-stuffed bacon-wrapped dates. Who wouldn’t? If you live in Chicago, you can pick them up at Publican Quality Meats. For those of us who live outside of the Chicago, try our version of the recipe below and be sure pick up the Cheers to the Publican cookbook.
To make the sauce, we prefer to use a food mill (we like this one), but you could also use an immersion blender. We also use our food mill for other recipes like our yellow pepper soup and potato croquettes. It’s one of the tools in the kitchen that gets a lot of use. We love using this oval baker to cook and serve the dates. It retains the heat and makes for a great presentation.
- 2 roasted red bell peppers, peeled and chopped*
- 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 1 onion, medium dice
- Heavy pour of olive oil
- 1 24-ounce jar of tomato puree
- Generous pinch smoked pimenton
- 12 Medjool Dates, pitted
- 6 slices, Bacon
- 2 chorizo sausages
- 1 Tablespoon parsley, chiffonade
- In a large saucepan, add a heavy pour of olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan) and put it over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt and cook over medium heat until they soften, but don’t let them brown. Add the diced pepper, the tomato puree, and a generous pinch of smoked pimenton. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15-25 minutes, stirring and checking it often, until the mixture starts to reduce and thicken. Once it’s reduced by about half and not watery at all, season to taste with salt (don’t add too much salt up front since it will get saltier the more it reduces).
- Run the mixture through the finest setting on a food mill and finish with salt to taste. If you don’t have a food mill, you could pulse it in a blender or food processor but don’t puree it too much.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Stuff each date with about a tablespoon of the chorizo. Cut the pieces of bacon in half. Wrap each stuffed date with a half-slice of bacon so that the start and end of the bacon is on the bottom. You wont need to add a toothpick because the date will hold the bacon in place. Set the dates on a sheet pan. Cook in the center of the oven until the chorizo and bacon is fully cooked but not browned, about 15-20 minutes (you will put them back into the oven).
- Turn on the broiler to high. Add enough sauce to cover the bottom of an oven-proof baker. Set the cooked dates into the sauce. Add the baker back into the oven for 2-3 minutes. Watch carefully so they brown but don’t burn. Take out of the oven and sprinkle with parsley on top and serve with some bread to soak up the extra sauce.