One reason I love working in a wine and spirits shop is that I frequently end up chatting about my other favorite subject, food! Exchanging recipes with customers is how I discovered chef/restauranteur Laurent Tourendel's amazing Braised Short Ribs, now a staple in my kitchen. Another time a customer came in to buy Sambuca, the anise flavored liqueur. Occasionally I enjoy a glass of Sambuca after dinner with some coffee beans floating in it, but I had never cooked with it. When she told me it was going to be used in a dessert with figs — a favorite fruit of mine which I usually just wash and bite into — I was intrigued and made sure to jot down her recipe.
Now that the height of the fig season is upon us, I want to share this indulgence with you! The recipe calls for Black Mission figs, which is what you will typically find in the market. Although there are many varieties of figs, the differences between them are quite subtle, so any kind will work just fine. Be careful transporting and storing them though — figs that have split open spoil very quickly. Keep them on the counter in a cool area (or you can refrigerate them but they will lose a little flavor) with enough air circulating around them and use them within a day or two after buying. Bon Appétit!
1/3 cup Sambuca liqueur
2 tablespoons water
6 fresh Black Mission figs with the bottoms cut off
1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup The Wine Chef's unbelievably delicious homemade ricotta (or store-bought ricotta that you have seasoned with salt and pepper), optional
1) Pour the Sambuca and water into a small saucepan. Place the figs, cut side down — pan should be just big enough to hold the figs upright (see photo below). Poach covered for 5 minutes and let cool slightly in the pan.
2) Remove figs to plates and serve drizzled with the Sambuca from the pan which will have turned into a beautiful purple color. Sprinkle with pine nuts and place a small scoop of ricotta on the plate if desired.