This recipe uses prosciutto plus you get an extra salty tang and sharpness from preserved lemon which works so well with the sweet prune, crunch of almond and savoury herb note from the sage. Apparently the devils were derived from "angels on horseback" a dish that involved wrapping an oyster in bacon and then cooking it, I have never done this but somehow I find the thought of it strangely appealing.
This is my version of a recipe that first made an appearance in pre-Victorian times in England before making a comeback as a sophisticated hors d’oeuvre in the 70s. It seems a little daggy now but I actually think it is a very delicious little morsel, easy to make and with added amusement value.
- 20 pitted prunes
- 20 whole almonds, toasted, skin on
- 10-20 thin slices of prosciutto, depending on the length (see Note)
- ½ a preserved lemon, thinly sliced
- 20 sage leaves
- olive oil
- salt and black pepper
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Take a prune and gently stuff a whole almond inside so it becomes completely encased. Repeat with all the prunes.
For each devil you will need to lay out either half or one whole slice of prosciutto, place a sage leaf down with a stuffed prune on top on one end and place a few slices of preserved lemon on top. Drizzle the prune and along the prosciutto with a hint of olive oil and season heavily with black pepper and just a tiny touch of salt. Starting from the prune end, wrap your devil up like a parcel with the prosciutto. Set aside on a tray and repeat with the rest of the prunes.
If you’re feeling clever and wish to be quicker, lay out several prosciutto slices all at once.
Once complete heat a large fry pan on your stove on a medium heat , throw in a splash of oil and, once warmed place the devils in, cooking on both sides. Do this in batches. You want them in long enough to get a nice even colour.
Once browned place your devils on a baking tray and slip into a pre-heated oven at 180°C for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, give them an extra hit of black pepper and serve on a fancy platter straight away to your guests with a wedge of lemon on the side.
• This dish relies a lot on having the right ratio of sweet to salt. This means you need to make sure you have enough prosciutto to completely wrap the prune about twice and it’s also best if it’s thinly sliced. Keep this in mind with the sage leaves also, you want each devil to have a piece of sage similar to the size of the prune.
Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Suresh Watson. Dipping bowl in colour plum (almonds) from Mud. Pestri Winkler tea towel in colour aubergine from The Chef and The Cook.