Last night, of course, being Wednesday, it was time for another installment of Dinner at Liz's.
Our original plan had been to have roasted figs and burrata, after I saw a note in one of the Chowhound threads about someone having that as an appetizer at the kind of schmancy restaurant those of us who work in publishing can only read about and try to recreate in our rent-stabilized Brooklyn apartments. Unfortunately, Bedford Cheese Shop, Murray's and Whole Foods on the Bowery all only carry burrata on the weekends so we had to come up with another plan.
In a delightfully serendipitous happenstance, I saw this post on silver fox Eric Ripert's blog the same day a friend mentioned that he had stopped eating pork. Since hearing about dietary restrictions makes me immediately want to eat enormous quantities of whatever the other person is denying himself, bacon-wrapped figs it was. Of course, ER's description of the bacon "bring[ing] out flavors in the fruit that would not come out otherwise" and "infus[ing] it with its own salty, pork flavors while also showing off the sweetness of the fresh fruit," was intriguing, to say the least.
And, people, these were awesome.
We cooked ours about twice as long as M. Ripert did because, while he has possibly the most sextacular voice on the planet (seriously, watch the video — I'll be hearing 'canape' in his dulcet tones every time I see the word written out for the rest of my life), he apparently likes his bacon much closer to raw than Liz and I do. The longer cooking time allowed the figs to cook down until they were practically jam, though they had no trouble maintaining structural integrity (through the magic of bacon, I assume).
Although I agree with E.R. in theory that "it is always nice to peel your fig," we conducted a Very Serious Experiment in which we peeled most of the figs, but left a couple with the skin on to see if we could tell the difference. Short answer: no. Longer answer: if we hadn't left the stems on the ones with the skin, we never would have been able to tell, even if the prize for guessing correctly would have been for Eric Ripert to come over and say 'toaster oven' to me many times. I would recommend taking the stems off though. We used the toothpicks that were holding the bacon in place to pick up the figs, which worked perfectly well. Plus, since the figs were so fabulously soft and jammy, the stems didn't really function as handles anyway. They just sort of came off.
It is awfully satisfying to peel the skin off though, in a weirdly food-specific-OCD kind of way:
You can see the pile of denuded figs in the background.
Here they are ready to go under the broiler:
As the kitchen began to fill with what might be the best! smell! ever! Liz's dog Kitty indicated her willingness to do whatever it would take to get some bacon:
(I have it on good authority that her kibble was enhanced with bacon grease this morning.)
We ate them all (yes, all) up with an arugula salad with cucumbers, tomatoes and tiny shards of goat's milk feta.
That bread came in handy when it was time to scrape up the carmelized-fig-juice-and-bacon-grease sludge from the bottom of the pan. (I bet you don't get to do that at Le Bernadin!)
(via Avec Eric)
twice as many figs as bacon slices
Wash and dry figs and remove stems. Cut bacon in half and wrap around figs, securing with a toothpick. Broil for 10 minutes, then take pan out and remove as much grease as possible with a baster or large spoon. Turn figs and put back under the broiler for 5-10 minutes, depending on desired level of doneness.
[originally published on my old food blog 9.11.2008]