Stuffed Dried Plums – a 14th Century Recipe

Thursdays at my partner's company are happy Thursdays. Everybody stays after work for drinks, food and chit-chat. How do they manage to still be productive on Fridays remains a mystery.

Last Thursday was even happier, but not for singles. Somebody came up with the idea that everybody should bring their significant other... and some food!

Now, I really like potlucks. But I've only been in the Netherlands for two weeks so I had no idea what could I make for this one! The only thing I knew where to find here was lard, and I didn't think a lot of people would be too thrilled about it.

But suddenly, everything got clear.

 
Stuffed dried plums
 

A BIT OF HISTORY

There was a time when Serbia was glorious. Serbian king Dušan the Mighty (1308 – 1355) was one of the most powerful monarchs of his era. His kingdom had access to three seas but it eventually had to fall apart. His successor was his son, later known as Uroš the Weak.

Why am I writing this? Because it is said that this recipe dates back to the 14th century and that it was prepared at the Serbian royal court. Centuries later this dish is still a delicious and mouthwatering experience.

STUFFED PRUNES: THE RECIPE

So, these are dried plums (or prunes) stuffed with with soft goat cheese and walnuts, then wrapped up in smoked bacon and baked until the flavors intertwine. Be still, my heart!

So, these are dried plums (or prunes) stuffed with with soft goat cheese and walnuts, then wrapped up in smoked bacon and baked until the flavors intertwine. Be still, my heart!

Unlike in the middle ages, we're able to get the plums that are already pitted and the bacon that's already sliced. However, assembling this delicacy still requires time.


Ingredients:

The exact amount of the given ingredients varies, mostly depending on the size of plums. I found the Dutch ones much better than the ones we have in Serbia - they're larger and more moist. 

  • 500g dried plums, pitted
  • 150g soft goat cheese
  • 2 handfuls walnuts
  • 300g smoked bacon, thinly sliced
  • toothpicks

Stuff each plum with a piece of cheese and then a piece of walnut. (If you have hard time doing that, try steaming the plums first - I would normally suggest soaking them, but that can make them really sticky and icky). That can easily take up an hour or two, so play some good music or make that skype call that you've been postponing because you know it's gonna last too long.

After you've done that, wrap each plum around with bacon (you usually need half a slice per plum), and pierce through it all with toothpicks.

Each toothpick should go through two ends of bacon, plum itself, and walnut - to keep them all in place. Be careful - the plums should stand on their flattest sides.

Stuffed dried prunes before baking

Place the plums on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and heat the oven. Originally, these plums would be grilled - but in reality any kind of oven will work. If your oven has a fan, don't hesitate to use it - but it's not a must.

Bake the plums on 150° Celsius for 15 minutes. Then turn up the heat to 200° Celsius and bake for another 10 minutes.

Prunes stuffed with cheese and nuts

The bacon on top should lose some of it's fat but it shouldn't get more than mildly crispy. If it turns completely crispy, that means you've baked the plums for too long and that they're too dry and chewy - so check up on your oven from time to time. Let the plums slightly cool and try them - they should be juicy and they should make you go OMG.

These stuffed dried plums can be served cold (i.e. cooled completely, NOT without baking) - they would still work their magic. That means you can prepare them a day in advance if you have to.

They're an explosion of nicely interwoven flavors you can't even imagine.

Cheese is what links the taste of plums to the taste of bacon, while bacon connects the plums and the walnuts. But that doesn't sound awesome enough. So, try them yourself and thank me later.