Summer’s fruits are making their way into our homes thanks to all the great farms and home gardens out there. The exotic Fig is one of my most anticipated market choices every Summer..reminds me of sitting at my Grandma Battaglia’s table in Staten Island. She prized her bountiful fig trees with their nectar laden fruits, sometimes so sweet that the ants would get to the figs before Grandma did. Us grandkids never were allowed to pick them, we could pick the Concord Grapes and the Peaches, Pears, Cherries, Apples and Mulberries but never the figs. Grandma did that. She’d pick them and gently swaddle them in her housecoat apron, you know, the kind Grandmas in the 60’s and 70’s wore. Yes, there were a few stains from Sunday sauce on them too. Nothing ever is as good as a juicy sweet fresh picked fig but alas, we all do not have that luxury. Most of us need to buy them and one of the most popular restaurant uses of fresh figs is to stuff them with a soft cheese and wrap them in a cured piece of pork. They are then baked which turns them into a caramelized salty and sweet creamy crunchy smoky vessel of fig love that is a great way to start a meal or have with cocktails, tapas style. Whoever came up with this idea needs a James Beard or other appropriate award for excellence. Damn delicious. A million ways to make these and in true A Food Obsession fashion here’s my way of preparing them. Let’s Cook!
For 4 people 3 figs per person works, they are rich…figure about 30-40 minutes total prep and cooking time.
12 large ripe figs, look for ones that are soft but not mushy (ie: overripe, those are great to pop in your mouth but not for this dish) slice in half but still attached at the bottom.
1/2 cup softened goat cheese
1 tbs Mascarpone
2 sprigs of fresh thyme (FRESH, not dried) swipe you fingers down the sprig to release all the leaves, also, have on hand another 3 sprigs for garnishing.
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
pinch of kosher salt
1 tbs. of good local honey
1 tsp. of grated shallot
fresh ground black pepper
1/4 lb of sliced prosciutto, thin, sliced into long strips
for the honeyed walnuts:
1 tbs. unsalted butter
2 tbs. of good local honey
pinch of kosher salt
1/8 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
While they are baking, in a cast iron pan, “toast” the chopped walnuts moving the nuts around the pan, nuts burn really quickly..after about 2 minutes (over medium heat) add the honey, salt and the butter and let this just come to a light bubble..then reduce and mix the nuts into the melted butter/honey mixture. Turn off heat. Remove the baked figs from the oven.
Gently place them on a serving plate…and garnish with the ground black pepper to taste, and the place a few of the honeyed walnuts around the figs, a few drops of the warm honey and butter and some whole sprigs of thyme for color and aroma.
Done. Amazing. Like a High End Trendy spot in NYC. Right here in your own kitchen.