Figs in Port

Figs in Port Recipe

Before there was this Figs in Port recipe, there was an enormous Turkish fig tree in my grandmother’s backyard in Istanbul. It looked like something out of The Lord of the Rings or a children’s fantasy novel. I have very fond memories of being five years old and playing around that tree, where I found copious amounts of sweet figs on the ground and on low-hanging branches and gorged myself on as many as could fit into my little stomach. By the time my mother called me in for dinner, I would have no appetite for the meal and was punished for not eating. This recipe is a classic French preparation for figs, but the fruit always reminds me of my childhood. I call for Black Mission figs here. Their red-purple color and rich natural flavor pair extremely well with the deep, round, fruity aromas and flavors of the port wine. The peppercorns give your palate a kick at just the right moment.–Yigit Pura

LC Qualities We Swoon To In A Dessert Note

Simple. Seasonal. Sophisticated. Sassy. Sublime. All qualities we swoon to in a dessert. All found in this figs in port recipe. [Editor’s Note: A perfectly ripe fig is a rare thing. When you happen upon one, don’t smother it with other flavors. Simply stare at it for a moment and then consume it, preferably out of hand, definitely all by itself. And savor it. Don’t toss it in a pot with other ingredients that may overwhelm it. Save recipes such as this one for figs that are slightly underripe or somewhat overripe—that are in some way wanting and simply cannot wait to be coaxed to perfection.]

Special Equipment: Tea ball or cheesecloth (optional)

Figs in Port Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 5 M
  • 15 M
  • Makes 20 fig halves


  • 10 large, slightly underripe or somewhat overripe Black Mission figs
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (75 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup (150 grams) tawny port
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (3 grams) whole black peppercorns


  • 1. Remove the stems from the figs and cut them in half lengthwise.
  • 2. Place a 10-inch stainless-steel or enamel-coated saucepan over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the surface. It will melt right away and begin to caramelize and smoke. Immediately place the figs, cut side down, onto the caramelizing sugar. Reduce the heat to low and let the figs cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Do not stir or toss or turn the figs. The figs will naturally release their own juices which will dissolve the sugar.
  • 3. Carefully add the port to the saucepan. Keep the pan over low heat until the caramel melts completely and begins to coat the figs. Add the peppercorns, first enclosing them in a tea ball or cheesecloth, if desired. Use heat-resistant tongs to flip the figs over and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer the figs to a platter, cut side up, and cover to keep warm.
  • 4. Return the pan to medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, using a heat-resistant rubber spatula to stir and occasionally scrape the bottom to pull up all the caramel and peppercorn goodness that may be stuck there. Remove and discard the peppercorn via the tea ball or cheesecloth or a slotted spoon. The port sauce should be deep purple, thick, and velvety. Remove the pan from the heat.
  • 5. Drizzle the warm figs with the port sauce and serve immediately.
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Recipe Testers Reviews

Recipe Testers Reviews
Testers Choice
Alexandra M.

Sep 11, 2014

GLORIOUS. This was a fabulous little recipe that I'm sure I'll make again very soon. Since port and peppercorns are always on tap in our kitchen, the only grocery list item was the figs. Score. The only reason that I wouldn't give this recipe an unqualified recommendation is because of the pesky peppercorns. Since there really is no good way to strain them from the sauce (unless you have a more finely-slotted spoon than I), and since they tended to nestle into the flesh of the figs, it was easy to get 3 or 5 accidental peppercorns per mouthful. Thus, we were constantly fishing them out of our mouths—which is rather unseemly—or simply chewing them and preparing ourselves for a smoky flavor blast. However, we found that one peppercorn per bite was delightful. Not sure how one would remove the peppercorns without sacrificing the beautiful thickness of the sauce—probably a finely-slotted spoon would be the best. In the second step, the figs definitely released their purple juices, which dissolved the sugar in the pan. Another reason why this recipe rocks: It's a perfect late-night fancy snack. My boyfriend plays on Broadway, and often comes home at 10:30 or 11 pm. For months, I've been racking my brain—what can I feed him at that time that's lighter than dinner, sort of a treat, and doesn't require tons of cooking? Well, this fits the bill—and since there was so much extra sauce, I served it with thick slices of nice bread, slathered with butter. Thank you!

Testers Choice
Natalie Reebel

Sep 11, 2014

This is truly a stunning, rustic dish. It's simple to make but there are a few things to know before beginning the preparations. It's really important for all the ingredients to be ready to go and close to the stove before beginning. My pan was hot but not smoking. When I sprinkled the sugar in my skillet, I could smell it begin to burn right away. I removed the pan from the heat, lowered the heat to low, placed the figs cut side down in the pan, and placed the pan back on low heat. They mixture barely simmered for 3 minutes. I added the port and the tea ball with the peppercorns. As I was turning the figs over, I could feel big clumps of melted sugar stuck to the pan. Fear struck as I had visions of having to throw my skillet away because of stuck-on burnt sugar. I calmly waited 3 minutes, removed the figs, turned up the heat to medium, and stirred with a wooden spoon while the sauce bubbled and thickened. As I stirred, I realized the stuck-on sugar was dissolving into the sauce. What a relief. By the time 5 minutes passed, the pan was free of all stuck-on sugar. The sauce was purple, thick, and a similar consistency to caramel. When we served it over scoops of vanilla bean ice cream, my son said it looked like something that would be served in a fancy restaurant. I used fresh local figs and local port. It was beautiful and delicious. I was so glad I'd continued to cook through the fear. No ruined dessert, no ruined pan, just wonderful deliciousness.

Testers Choice
Anna Scott

Sep 11, 2014

Late summer, early fall—one of the things I look forward to most in the kitchen is fresh figs. Cooked or even raw in a simple appetizer, figs pair perfectly with the other ingredients in this recipe—port wine and black peppercorns. The spiciness of the peppercorns and the sweetness of the rich tawny port are scrumptious with the caramelized fig halves. It was perfect with a pork tenderloin and a side of creamy mashed potatoes. This recipe is a keeper.

  1. Fig trees are the prettiest things. This recipe looks just perfect. I always eye figs at the farmers market but never have the heart to shell out all that money for them. I just might this weekend. This looks really really lovely.

  2. Maralyn Woods says:

    I suggest you put the peppercorns in one of these little bouquet garni bags. Or a little piece of cheesecloth tied with kitchen twine. Works like a charm.

  3. Kathleen says:

    You guys sure have been mighty figgy lately…. Yearrrrrrrrrrrrrssssss ago I lived in Virginia Beach and we had a fig tree out back…I went to that tree 2-3 times a day. Even as a child, I could never get enough of them…so when I had my own tree to go to, I was in Heaven…till the bees took over…could never get close enough to it after that.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Kathleen, figs are in season for such a short time, we figure we have to avail ourselves of them while we can. Clearly you’re a kindred soul and understand exactly what we mean….

  4. Gerre Schwert says:

    Figs in port wine??? My eyes are rolling back in my head at the anticipated pleasure! Thank you, David Leite, culinary genius of our time.

  5. ATNell says:

    I have a kadota fig tree. Any reason why this recipe wouldn’t work with these figs?

  6. Adri says:

    Oh dear! Now you have gone and made me cry. My grandmother used to make something very much like this, sans the peppercorns, and, as a kid, I just loved it. I think part of it was that was that I got “to drink” when she served this, but also it was darn delicious. Thanks for awakening a wonderful memory.

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