Amarone-poached figs with ricotta

italy
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Figs have been in season here in San Francisco recently, so I have been experimenting with them.  You'll either love this or hate it I reckon.  Let me know how it goes if you try it.  If nothing else, it provides a good excuse to open a bottle of Amarone.

Traditionally in Italy this dish is made with Sambuca instead of Amarone.  I tried it with both and much prefer it with Amarone.  You could try any anise-flavoured spirit, or perhaps Marsala, port or brandy... 

What makes the dish work is the contrasting combination of the salty, crunchy pine nuts, the soft, cool ricotta and the warm, sweet figs and syrup.

Amarone figs.jpg
Recipe:  Amarone-poached figs with ricotta.pdf

Cooking time:  20 mins

pine nuts
extra-virgin olive oil
3-5 ripe, purple figs per person, depending on their size
Amarone, or any other good, strong Italian red wine
white sugar
fresh ricotta
salt and pepper

  1. Gently fry pine nuts in a little olive oil until golden but not burnt.  Place on kitchen paper and mix with some salt.  You will need enough for each serving to have a generous garnish of pine nuts.
  2. Choose a small saucepan (with lid) in which figs can stand upright nestled against each other.  Add enough wine to come approx one third the way up the figs.  Remove the figs and put to one side.  Then measure the quantity of wine you have used.  Put the wine back in the pan and add 1 tbsp sugar for every 75ml of wine. Heat the pan until the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Replace the figs, cover and simmer gently for 10 mins.  The figs will look more attractive on the plate if you leave the stalks on.  If any refuse to stand up, cut a very thin slice off the bottom to create a flat resting surface.
  4. Meanwhile place a dollop of ricotta on each serving plate, season with a small amount of freshly ground black pepper and garnish with pine nuts.
  5. When the figs are done use tongs to place several on each plate, next to the ricotta.  Return the pan of wine to the hob, turn up the heat and boil to reduce and slightly thicken to a syrupy consistency.  This will take approx 5 mins.  Leave enough in the pan to be able to dress each plate of figs.
  6. When the syrup is ready leave it to partially cool (it will thicken some more) and then either pour over each person's figs yourself or provide each plate with its own espresso cup of syrup for dipping.
Learn more about figs and ricotta.

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