one of the things we feel really strongly about at our house is eating seasonally, or de Saison, which means we get almost all our produce from a local farm that sells in the area marchés.
we also feel strongly about eating in general. which is way i want to start a new feature called de Saison to share some of the amazing, delicious, swoon-worthy recipes i come across using seasonal foods.
these are figs.
figs times 100.
the thing about fig season is that it is so short and the figs themselves are so delicate that they don't last very long after being picked. by the way, if you hear fig and think of a dried up little thing - reconsider! a fresh fig is a whole different world of delicate, juicy, honeyed goodness! anyway, finding myself with a lots of figs and a cocktail gathering to prepare for this weekend, a quick search provided me with what i needed to do: poach the figs and serve it with brie (life is tough sometimes).
one of the things that makes this recipe so perfect is that you can use up figs that may not look as beautiful as when you first brought them home. the original recipe calls for poaching them whole but, as i was having company over who knew where to find us again (the neighbors actually), i quartered all my figs just to be positive that none of them were starting to go. bonus: they come out of the oven the perfect size to perch on a slice of cheese and baguette. double bonus: this recipe is ridiculously easy. no, really.
this combination of spices and cooking method give you a fig that is almost candied, spiced with the warm tasty flavors of autumn, and it just melts in your mouth! i made modifications to the original recipe to avoid running to the store for missing ingredients but the complexity of the flavors here did not suffer one bit.
one last note (have i lost you yet?): after the first hour of (unattended - no work!) baking, the figs still look rather liquidy but never fear because in the second half of baking, when the cover comes off, the magic happens and a beautiful gloss will develop that you can reserve for a vinaigrette (or marinade, or just sop it up with bread or...)
Oven Poached Figs
adapted from Martha Stewart's recipe
about 12 figs, washed and quartered
1/4 c. tawny port
1/4 c. water
3 tbsp. honey
1/4 c. orange juice
1 stick cinnamon, 3 inches
sprinkle of powdered vanilla (common in France) -or- 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
2 whole cloves
1/2 t. whole black peppercorns
Preheat the oven to 325°F/170°c. In a bowl, whisk together port, water, honey, and orange juice. Put figs in a baking dish and pour mixture over them. Submerge cinnamon stick, vanilla, cloves, and peppercorns in the poaching liquid (next time, i may try putting these in a cheese cloth because it will making fishing out all those pieces easier later. definitely don't want an unsuspecting guest champing down on a peppercorn!). Cover the baking dish with foil or its cover (i used a covered ceramic dish) and bake for 1 hour.
After 1 hour, remove the foil or cover and continue to bake for 45 minutes basting the figs a few times with the sauce. Remove from oven and let it cool completely before dishing up the figs (being sure to remove all peppercorns and cloves) and reserving the sauce for a vinaigrette later. Serve with brie or an aged chevre...yum!
Martha says that they will keep 3 days in the refrigerator. if you don't eat them all in 1 hour! even the kids loved these! the next day, i used up the rest of the fresh figs to make some more which i am freezing for later on in the winter.