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Something with figs but not jam was the objective. Why not jam? Because I’d be the sole consumer and however much I love jam, I only have it very occasionally.
Which is a wrong line of thinking and a wrong attitude. How many cooks with an uncharming audience of picky eaters never bother to make something they completely adore, only because ‘it’s not worth making it just for me’? Wrong – it’s worth it. You’ll appreciate it. You’ll be the worthiest consumer and the most objective critic.
You see, we the cooks are usually the adventurous lot. Fussy eaters are never good cooks. I strongly suspect that a lot of food phobias could be cured by the phobic preparing the dish, the product, the hateful foodstuff themselves. I’m the least fussy person on earth but I wasn’t that keen on grilled fresh mackerel until I cooked it, understood that it needs to be salted like a herring and herbed like a medieval tincture before exposure to violent fire, best of all on a barbecue. My favourite reconstructed fusspot, The Weather Man, has produced dishes he’d not have looked twice at before he started cooking seriously. You want to encourage versatility in your home eaters? Get them to help you cook. I know, I know, easier said.
So taking the two points above, I know what I’ll do: I’ll get TWM to make fig jam. And then he’ll have to eat it too. For the time being though I give you fig confit, which is certainly worth making too.
- 200ml (scant cup) port, madeira or any sweet fortified wine
- 100ml (½ cup) water
- 100g (½ cup) caster sugar
- 300g (10oz.) fresh ripe figs
- a sprig of rosemary
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 lemon, sliced thinly
1. Heat the wine with sugar and water until the sugar dissolves. Stem the figs and cut them lengthwise into quarters. Add the figs to the pan, add the lemon slices, bay leaves and rosemary and simmer over low heat for 10-15 minutes until figs are soft but still hold their shape.
2. While the figs are cooking, wash a jam-sized jar and sterilise it for 15 minutes in an oven at 120C. When the figs are soft, scoop them out of the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer into the jar.
3. Turn up the heat and bring the juice to the boil. Cook it for 5 minutes until it reduces, thickens and becomes syrupy.Fish out the herb and lemon or pour the syrup over the figs through a sieve.
4. Seal the jar, let it cool down and store in the fridge. It will keep for a couple of weeks.