Wednesday, October 12, 2011


As I mentioned previously, on Sunday we picked about three or four pounds of figs from our tree in the back yard. Most of them weren't quite fully ripe but we wanted to get to them before the fat greedy squirrel could. I figured we'd have about a week to decide what to do with them before they started to get too ripe, but it appears that I was being more optimistic than I should have. 

Yesterday I walked past the bowl of figs and noticed that they were all very dark purple. And that they were starting to attract fruit flies. Damn! So I started scouring the internet for recipes because really, what am I going to do with four pounds of figs in one sitting? Fig compote it is!

I found a couple of different recipes and combined them to create one recipe. Never a fool proof method, to be sure, and this time was no different. The recipe I ultimate used was:

  • 3 pounds of figs, de-stemmed and cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 stick of pasture butter
  • 1/4 cup of Sugar in the Raw
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
  • Melt butter in pan
  • Add sugar to form a syrup
  • Add honey to thicken syrup
  • Add figs to the syrup and stir
  • Cook for 30 minutes, stirring constantly
It was beautiful while it was cooking and I loved to watch the syrup go from a lovely golden brown to a perfect aubergine color, but the recipe was not without its flaws. If we make this again - and let's be honest, with a giant fig tree in our yard we probably will - I will use less butter and less sugar. I'll also probably add some nutmeg and a dash of lemon juice to give it a kick of acidity. I will also cut the figs in quarters (instead of halves) because the chunks are still rather large and this was after I was breaking them up and smashing them to smithereens. 

As described above, this is definitely a very sweet treat and something that we will use sparingly, likely paired with a great stinky cheese and some prosciutto. I also think it'd make a great holiday garnish for desserts, and so pretty to boot. We won't be around for Thanksgiving, but I'm thinking I could freeze some until Christmas. It'd be perfect then with some star anise as a garnish for serving.

While I was making the compote, I had chicken thighs braising in the oven. I really had no idea what to make for dinner last night so I grabbed some fennel and carrots and added them - with a few sprigs of thyme - to the Le Creuset for a quick braise and called it a meal. 

I never cook carrots to a proper doneness so I was thrilled when these came out firm enough to have some texture, but not so hard you'd call them al dente. I hate mushy carrots, and I hate under cooked carrots. In fact, that's probably a reason I'm not big on carrots - I can never cook them properly. But these were perfection! And the fennel added a nice flavor to the chicken, which also came out near as perfect as I've managed to get it. 

Braised chicken really is one of the staple meals here at casacaudill. What are some of your go-to weeknight meals?