Step Away From the Figs
16 Oct 2006

Someone seriously needs to stop me. I can't help myself from buying the cute little baskets of figs. And each time I've done it over the summer, all with the best intentions of grilling or making some gorgeously beautiful Petit Fours or clafoutis, or at least photographing them with a nice cheese and glass of wine, they have sadly gone to waste. I set them down in their little brown bag and they magically disappear from my consciousness until several days later the re-emerge all moldy and spoiled, their little figgy lives a waste. And, while I'm sure they make good compost material, it's really a crime and mine end up there all too often. The tragedy happened yet again last week. This time though, I managed to rescue six lowly figs from the mold creeping in along the bottom. While they weren't in picture perfect condition, a quick scrub and trim at least rendered them usable for something. That something was a little fig-red wine sauce.

As I've found with a whole myriad of fruits, once they are a touch past their prime, the best bet is to cook them up. Throw the cleaned fruit, seeded if necessary, into a heavy pot with a bit of sugar, lemon juice and optionally white or red wine, and let it simmer for a while?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú I usually let it go for about an hour?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú and then push the goop through a fine mesh sieve to get a smooth, thick sauce... no worries about getting them to the consistency of a jam or a jelly... you just want to capture the essence of the fruit to make it last just a touch longer. If it's a bit runny, it's not a problem. Last week, I did this with plums (throwing in a vanilla bean) and concord grapes, as well as my surviving figs, for three different but equally yummy sauces. They'll keep in the fridge for a little bit (around a week), or if you don't mind the effort, you can go ahead and stock them away in sterilized jars like you would a jam.
Serve over ice cream or on a simple pound or lemon cake. Or, reduce with some balsamic vinegar for a great sauce for pork, duck or roasted winter veggies. Or simply eat it by the spoonful.

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