Fresh figs are the cilantro of the fruit world.
People tend to either lust after them or loathe them.
If they grew up hating Fig Newtons, most likely they never even dared to bite into the plump, intensely sweet fresh version.
More’s the pity.
Because people, I’m here to tell you: Give fresh figs a chance, OK?
How can you not love a fruit so squishy soft, so uniquely gorgeous looking, and nearly port-like in flavor?
I sure do. That’s why when I was leafing through the new cookbook, “Good to the Grain” (Stewart, Tabori & Chang), which I recently received a copy of from the publisher, it was the recipe for “Fig Compote” that jumped out at me.
It’s a cinch to make using fresh figs, a little butter, a bit of honey, some dark brown sugar and a pinch of salt. It cooks in a flash on the stovetop, then under the broiler. In mere minutes, you have a compote that’s thick, glossy, and syrupy, almost like fig caramel sauce.
The book, by Kim Boyce, a former pastry chef at Spago and Campanile (both in Los Angeles), is all about baking with whole grains, particularly ones that are less familiar, such as amaranth flour and kamut flour.
Obviously, there are no grains in this compote. But it’s an ideal accompaniment to your morning bowl of oatmeal. wholegrain waffles or Boyce’s recipe in the book for barley porridge.
Or do what I like to do: While it’s still warm, spoon the fig compote over ice cream for an unforgettable treat that’s a perfect ending to even a fancy dinner party. If that doesn’t make a fig lover out of you, trust me, nothing will.
(Makes 1 cup)
1/2 pound fresh figs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons honey
Pinch of kosher salt
Preheat your broiler. Cut stem off each fig, slice fig in quarters, and set aside.
Add butter, brown sugar, and honey to a cast-iron pan or a medium broiler-proof saute pan. Cook for about 1 minute over high heat, stirring frequently, until syrup begins to bubble. Add figs and stir to coat them with the syrup.
Place pan under broiler to caramelize figs. Protecting your hand with an oven mitt or towel, swirl the pan a few times over the next 5 minutes to prevent sugar and figs from burning. The figs are done when the syrup is thickened slightly and amber in color, and the edges of the figs are dark and glossy. Remove the pan from the broiler and serve figs while they’re still warm.
From “Good to the Grain” by Kim Boyce
Another Figgy Good Recipe: Chicken Fricasse with Figs and Port Sauce