Well, my old high-school friend Marc is back from Uganda- and in honor of his return I decided to do something with some figs I picked up because his post on figs had me salivating. Plus, I had this gorgeous goat's milk ricotta I bought at the farmer's market in my fridge that I really needed to do something with. On top of all of this excitement, we were going over to Mark and Barry's for a pre-vacation send off dinner (their vacation, not ours - we, sadly, are going exactly nowhere this summer) and Smith was bringing mojitos and I wanted to bring an appetizer that would go well - something spicy and salty and a little bit sweetish.
I have to admit I never used to be much of a fig fan, unless they were surrounded in a soft cookie were titled "Newton". When I was a kid, fig Newtons were my second favorite after school snack, following slightly stale and soft graham crackers dipped in milk until they fell apart. After which you quickly drink the milk before the crumbs hit the bottom of the glass. Mmmmm. But, oddly, tastes change even as adults. For instance, a year or so ago, I was out with my olive-despising friend Caroline - we hadn't seen each other in a while - so when she ordered the hummus/warm olive appetizer I almost fell off my chair. I felt I didn't know who she WAS anymore - you know? We've known each other since the late '80's and in all that time, I never once saw her eat an olive, mostly saw her gag in the vicinity of olives, yet suddenly there she was slurping them down. And so it is with me and figs. Where the raw fruit once kind of skeeved me out (perhaps because of a music video involving plates of fruit greasy haired men and women in leather that MTV played incessantly my freshman year of college...), now, I love them, especially warm from the grill or the broiler. They are fantastic. So, for dessert, make them Marc's way (delicious!), but for an appetizer, follow my little recipe here, because they were simply and just sublime:
Figs with Bacon and Ricotta
2 thick slices of bacon cut up into small pieces
1 nice little pint of figs - I think there were about 8 in the one I picked up from the store - sliced in half length wise
1/4 - 1/2 cup of goats milk ricotta - or any fresh ricotta
a few dashes of Tabasco, or any hot sauce of your choice
a pinch of fleur de sel, or other really tasty sea salt
First, haul out your cast iron, or stainless steel skillet, heat it up and toss in your bacon. Cook until crispy then take it out and let it drain on some paper towels. Pour out all but a tablespoon or so of bacon fat out of the pan, reheat, and put in the figs, cut side down. Cook over medium heat until just fragrant. Meanwhile preheat the broiler (I use my toaster oven broiler because it doesn't take a lifetime to hit 500 degrees). Place your figs on a cookie sheet covered in parchment, spoon a little ricotta in the center of each fig, hit each ricotta filled fig with a dash of hot sauce and a tiny pinch of sea salt, then place the sheet into the broiler and broil until the ricotta turns a nice golden color. Just before serving place small piece of bacon on top. Serve immediately.