I'm probably going to be making some bacon wrapped dates and my question is, should I precook the bacon slightly and if so what method should I use?
I would not pre-cook it at all. My own preference is to cook "wrapped" things on the grill, preferablly wood fired. I want that dripping fat to hit the coals and come back up as bacon/wood flavored smoke.
If you are not going to be grilling over an open fire then definitely par-cook the bacon. So often I've eaten bacon wrapped items where the fat is still flabby and pale - very unappetizing. My preferred method for cooking bacon is in a 350-375 degree oven on a sheet pan (cookie sheet). Your bacon will be evenly cooked and you won't be splattering grease all over your stove and receiving battle wounds :)
If you are wrapping dates, I'd suggest regular-thickness bacon, to be sure bacon gets cooked through and crispy. Cut bacon slices in half cross-wise. Preheat oven to 400 F. Wrap each date in the half pieces of bacon, spiraling it around the date. Secure bacon with toothpick. Put on a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake 5 minutes, turn over dates with tongs, bake another 5-8 minutes or until bacon is crisp.
(You could cut a slit in the dates, and stuff them with a little blue cheese first!)
btw these are delicious date canapés, don't require roasting in oven:
I'm with Pegeen in that stuffing them with a stilton or bleu is very tasty. As for the bacon, years ago I stopped buying grocery store bacon that is filled with chemicals and found a local butcher who smokes his own bacon and slices it to whatever thickness you want. You would be surprised at the taste of real bacon compared to packaged. For this recipe I would lean to a thinner cut so the cheese does not squirt out while the bacon is cooking.
Another thought is that you can also stuff the dates with an almond or two - then you can use a thicker bacon slice to get more bacon flavor. And another very good stuffing is to put in a dried prune slice. How long to cook them depends on the temperature of your oven (I tend to cook with a hot oven...usually 400F...but you have to keep an eye on the product so it does not burn).
Finally, I suggest you make more than you think you need - they will be tasty and will disappear quickly.
I also like to brush the bacon with some grainy mustard
Love the idea of almonds… and of brushing bacon with mustard.
If you want to see adults act irrationally (not that that's hard to arrange), make this brown sugar and mustard bacon, and wrap it around the dates or cocktail franks:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 pound sliced bacon
Preheat oven to 400 F. In a large plastic ziplock bag, combine brown sugar and mustard. Add bacon and toss to coat.
Wrap bacon around dates as mentioned in post above.
You can also make the bacon by itself as a decadent accompaniment to a Mother’s Day breakfast or brunch. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with foil, lay a wire cooling rack on it. Lay brown sugar & mustard-coated slices of bacon on rack. Bake for about 20 minutes (check after 15). No need to turn bacon slices if you use the wire rack.