Remember just ten days ago, I took apart a duck, preparing its pieces for several things: skin and fat to be rendered, legs to be made into confit, and breasts to pack in salt and hang to dry for prosciutto. The ten days are over for the prosciutto: one full day packed in salt, nine to hang and dry. The wait was a trial of patience, but rife with breast jokes: taking pictures of my breasts to put up on Facebook, squeezing my breasts to check them daily and how tired I was of having my breasts just hang around like that. But, this wait paid off: today was the day to try my first bite of duck prosciutto, and it was such a wonderful surprise; the fat is buttery, the meat rich and full of that delightful duck flavor. I mean, there is no pretending that this is anything other than duck: it is duck intensified, and it is a good thing.
Other than making dirty jokes over the past ten days, I began to wonder what exactly I’d be doing with the prosciutto when it was finished. Yes, yes, we’d be eating it–that’s a given–but man does not live by meat alone, no matter just how good it is. My mind drifted to dates and how that particular luscious sweetness of a date would pair well with the salty richness that I was expecting (rightly so) from the finished product. Throw in a creamy cheese filling and pistachios, a natural complement to duck; a little citrus to add a bit of acidity to lighten the overall flavor profile, and I was sure to have a winner.
These scream to be eaten along with a glass of a bold Zinfandel or Merlot–in fact, if I was doing a wine tasting, these would definitely be one of the appetizers I’d serve. They’re perfectly bite-size, but they pack a ton of flavor.
Note: depending on the size of your dates, especially if you’re using high-quality Medjool dates, you may need to use two slices of the prosciutto to wrap them entirely.
Duck Prosciutto-Wrapped Stuffed Dates
- 1 1/2 ounces Chevre
- 1 1/2 ounces Mascarpone
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
- 12 dates, preferably Medjool
- 1/4 cup shelled pistachios, finely chopped
- 12 slices duck prosciutto (or more as needed)
- In a stand mixer, beat cheeses with orange zest and juice until smooth. Set aside, or fill pastry bag for easy stuffing.
- Cut dates lengthwise to remove pit; pipe or spoon in cheese filling.
- Place chopped pistachios on a small plate, press the exposed cheese filling towards the nuts to create a coating of pistachios.
- Wrap stuffed date with slices of duck prosciutto and secure with toothpick.