Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How to Use 50 lbs of Figs

Last spring our young fig tree lost its herbaceous mind and refused to stop producing figs. We ate them fresh, warm off the tree, in salads, as dessert, with a dry, sharp cheese like Manchego, poached, in compotes.

I made jam and then I remembered that we don't really eat jam. About fifteen jars later. So I dried a bushel or two in my dehydrator. Then I put them in an airtight jar and forgot all about them until I started cleaning out my cupboards a few weeks ago.

What I've discovered is that dried figs are an excellent natural sweetener. I've used them, reconstituted and pureed in baked goods. I added a bit of puree to add sweetness to tomatoe sauce. They make a nice glaze for pork. The best recipe yet, though was in some Mexican style mole. (Mole should have an accent on the last e but I don't know how to do that. So to be clear, I'm talking about the traditional Mexican sauce, not the small burrowing animal.) Here's the recipe:

3 dried pasilla chiles (from last years garden), soaked until soft, stems removed
1 dried jalepeno (from last years garden), soaked until soft, stem removed
lots of comino
2 tbs good quality chocolate powder
4 dried figs, soaked until soft
salt to taste
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c almond butter

Blend until smooth, add enough water or broth to cover beef, pork or chicken and simmer until meat is tender. When meat is done, reduce to a thick sauce. The sauce should have a taste balanced between the bitter of the chocolate, sweetness of the figs, and spiciness of the chilis and comino. Any kind of nut butter may be used. Lots of people use unsweetened peanut butter or sesame paste. I often use pecan butter.

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