These figs in Port wine, made with fresh figs, tawny port, sugar, and black peppercorns, is a simple, elegant summer dessert.
Figs in port. You may be thinking figs poached in port. Nope. It’s simply caramelized figs drowned in a sauce made from port that’s been reduced until sticky and syrupy and concentrated in flavor. It’s the ideal destination for figs that are slightly underripe or somewhat overripe or that are in some way lacking perfection. This recipe hides their flaws and coaxes them into completion. Originally published September 11, 2014.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Which Variety Of Figs To Use In This Recipe
The author calls for Black Mission figs in this recipe because, in her words, “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.” We wouldn’t dream of arguing.
Figs in Port
- Quick Glance
- 5 M
- 15 M
- Makes 20 fig halves
Special Equipment: Tea ball or cheesecloth (optional)
IngredientsEmail Grocery List
Recipe Testers Reviews
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.
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!
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.
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.