Bacon wrapped dates, with or without a cheese filling, are such a common hors d'oeuvre that I thought it was time to spruce it up. It helps that I recently visited a great cooking school in seattle, Culinary Communion run by Gabriel Claycamp, that also happens to make their own charcuterie. I ended up walking out of there with a few pounds of cured meat, but most importantly I discovered what is quite possible the bet pancetta in the world. You can use any type of pancetta that is available, but if you are in the Seattle area I highly recommend stopping and picking some up.
Pancetta Stuffed Dates
1/4 Pound pancetta
Several sheets of fillo dough
Prepare the pancetta in a fine dice and heat in a small sauce pan over medium high heat. Allow most of the fat to render off of the pancetta, while adjusting the temperature to ensure that you don't burn the pancetta. After the pancetta has browned and most of the fat has cooked off cooked off, drain it on a plate lined with paper towels. Allow the pancetta to cool, but reserve the fat and allow it to cool.
Make sure that the fillo dough is room temperature before using it, it will take about 2 hours to come to room temperature if it is frozen. Slice the fillo dough into 20 strips that are roughly the same width has the dates.
After the pancetta has cooled enough to handle, stuff the dates with as much pancetta as possible, a toothpick will help with this. Using a pastry brush, brush some of the pancetta fat onto a strip of dough and then wrap one of the dates with it. Do this for the remaining dates. Bake the dates on a baking sheet at 400 degrees until the dough develops a golden brown color.