Fresh Figs Poached in Red Wine or Port

Ripe fresh figs, directly from the tree, are one of my favorite fruits. They are so sweet, fragrant, and delicate. Unfortunately the local climate is too cold for that, and so we can only get imported figs that do not have as much flavor because they are not ripe enough and have been stored and chilled for too long since they were picked. To turn them into a nice dessert anyway, we need to poach them in red wine or port with spices. You can poach them on the stovetop or sous-vide. The advantage of sous-vide is that you will need less red wine or port to ‘submerge’ the figs. The varieties for spices and aromatics are endless; I provide two suggestions. Of course you can use the aromatics I used in the sous-vide recipe also for the stovetop, and vice versa.

Ingredients for version with red wine, lemon, vanilla, and pistachios

8 fresh figs

1/2 litre (2 cups) red wine

50 grams (4 Tbsp) agave syrup or sugar

rind of 1 untreated lemon

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

4 Tbsp shelled pistachios

Instructions for stovetop preparation

Wash the figs and cut off the stem.

Cut them into quarters, but not all the way through so the quarters stay together.

Use a vegetable peeler to obtain the rind of the lemon.

Use a very sharp pairing knife to remove as much as the white pith from the lemon rind as possible, as it gives off a bitter flavor. You only want the yellow part.

Arrange them in a saucepan in which they fit snugly.

Add the sugar or agave syrup…

…lemon rind…

…and red wine.

The figs should be barely covered with the red wine. They may float a little.

Add the vanilla.

Bring to a boil.

Turn off the heat as soon as it boils, then allow the figs to cool off in the hot wine. This will poach the figs.

Meanwhile, toast the pistachios for 8-10 minutes in the oven at 180C/350F. Allow them to cool and roughly chop them.

Take the figs out of the wine as soon as they have cooled off.

Sieve the wine.

Bring the wine to a boil to burn off the remaining alcohol and concentrate the flavor.

Keep going until you have about 125 ml (1/2 cup) left.

Serve the figs with the sauce and the pistachios.

In this version the sauce has a stronger wine flavor because the wine is reduced, but otherwise a very elegant flavor because of the lemon rind.

Ingredients for version with port, coriander seed, cardemom, clove, cinnamon, and vanilla

8 fresh figs

125 ml (1/2 cup) port

25 grams (2 Tbsp) agave syrup or sugar

1 tsp coriander seed

1 tsp cardamom pods

1 clove

1 stick cinnamon

1 vanilla bean

Instructions for sous-vide preparation

Split the vanilla bean lengthwise.

Put the port in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and carefully light the fumes to burn off the alcohol.

Turn off the heat and add the spices to the port.

Allow the port to cool completely before using a chamber vacuum sealer. Or use a ziploc bag and the water displacement method, in which case cooling is not required.

Prepare the figs as in the other version (wash, cut off stem, cut into quarters but not all the way through) and vacuum seal them together with the sauce and spices.

Cook sous-vide for 1 hour at 63C/145F, then allow to cool to room temperature.

Sieve the sauce.

This sauce does not need to be reduced, because the alcohol has already been removed before the sous-vide step.

Serve the figs with the sauce.

In this version less sugar is used, because port is already quite sweet. Still the sauce is stronger because of the spices.

Wine pairing

A port is too strong for both versions. Instead we enjoyed this with a sweet Monastrell from Spain. Another unfortified sweet red wine like a Sagrantino Passito would also work.

Flashback

A scarpaccia salata is a delicious savory zucchini cake from Tuscany.

8 thoughts on “Fresh Figs Poached in Red Wine or Port

  1. Naturally pears poached in red wine are a staple offering but Ihave never given figs the same treatment . . . so thank you for a new recipe ! Stovetop preparation for me as you would know . . . as I very much enjoy the taste of figs au naturel methinks the wine recipe with nuts would draw me more than the heavier spiced version . . . perchance in fig season I should try both 🙂 !! Quite interesting to see the shape of the figs you can buy . . . ours are very much more pear-shaped and, yes, they are homegrown . . .I do not have a figtree but many neighbours do . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s interesting about the shape. All the figs I’ve seen in Italy, Spain, and Portugal, when they were still on fig trees, have always been this shape. Pear-shaped, yes, but only slightly so.

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    1. Ciao Paola, avevo già preparato questo dolce prima di andare in Portogallo, ma non avevo tempo per scrivere la ricetta prima di partire. Ormai c`è ancora qualche fico fresco nel supermercato, ma non ancora in abbondanza.
      Le chiusure ci sono di nuovo, però questa volta fortunatamente la palestra è ancora aperta. Come va da te?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ciao Stefan, qui in generale va male, i contagi aumentano a migliaia di giorno in giorno e le restrizioni sono appena cominciate, ne vedremo i risultati fra due o tre settimane. Quanto alla mia famiglia, per ora stiamo bene. Abbiate cura di voi 🙂

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  2. What a for presentation, love the plate! We have a huge Italian population in Toronto and many have fig trees in their backyards. They generally dig a trench in front of the tree and bury it for the winter. I just buy them like everyone else! Our figs come from Turkey too!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Stefan,
    Some great ways to treat figs!
    I see you use ons of my favorite easy and full wines; Chateau Coulon.
    What would be te best way to get wet and juicy products vacuumed?
    At least in my Foodsaver (v2862) I tried your suggested “long sleeve” technique, but still I need to stop the process often too early, because juices get coming up too fast and could damage the machine.

    Best regards,
    Frans

    P.S. did you know Michel Roux made an excellent fig sauce with similar treatment, but added also some coffee to it. I’ll try it tonight with some venison…

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    1. Hi Frans,
      Chateau Coulon is my favorite red wine to use in cooking, because it tastes great when reduced and is great value for money if it’s on sale (EUR 4,50 per bottle).
      The best way to get wet and juicy products vacuum sealed is to buy a chamber vacuum sealer. I’ve bought mine after a few years of struggling with an external vacuum sealer, and although it was expensive and takes a lot of space, I have never regretted that purchase. With external vacuum sealers, like FoodSaver, it is physically impossible to get a good seal with a lot of liquid in the bag, as the machine sucks inside the bag. If you don’t want to get a chamber vacuum sealer, the best solution is to use ziploc bags and the water displacement method. You may be able to get better results with the food safer by using the water displacement method in combination with the long sleeve. The FoodSaver then sits next to the sink that is filled with water, so it is not just the long sleeve, but also gravity that will keep the liquid down. I have never tried that myself, but it may work.
      I’d recommend to add only a little coffee to anything with fresh figs, as their flavor is quite delicate. With dried figs I think coffee would be a great addition.
      Best regards,
      Stefan

      Like

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