I almost ran out of port soaked figs! To some of you that may not sound like a crisis but my pork fillet stuffed with wild rice, port soaked figs and marinated feta just won’t be the same without them. So off I went to one of the stores that I knew stocked the brand that I like. They are from a local producer and have that sticky sweetness that can only come from soaking a beautiful piece of dried fruit in a sticky, rich, luscious liquer like port. Once inside my destination, I asked one of the staff where I might find them and discovered there was one jar left on the shelf. The jar was a different shape than I had seen previously and it appeared a little smaller but it is the last jar so I snapped it up. Upon my arrival home, I not only discovered that the jar was a different shape but it also contained almost a third less than the jar I had purchased a few months ago for the same price. Now we all know that economic times have been a little tough lately but a third less………….it was too much for me to bear. So being the determined (and I admit, sometimes stubborn) person that I am I decided to try and make some myself by reading the ingredients, doing some research and taste testing the two products side by side. I pulled out one of my favourite local ports (I like the name and the label as much as what is in the bottle), some dried figs and a few other necessary ingredients. After an afternoon of experimenting, I came up with the following recipe that I hope you all enjoy making as much as I did.
port soaked figs (recipe created by Fiona from Food 4 Thought)
makes approximately 400g
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
6 whole black peppercorns
175g dried figs, stems removed
Place the port, sugar and water into a medium size pot over a medium heat. Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves. Add the star anise, cinnamon and peppercorns, increase the heat to bring to a boil. Add the figs and simmer for 20 – 25 minutes, or until figs have softened. Turn the figs several times throughout the process. Remove from the heat and allow to steep for an hour minimum. Remove the figs from the mixture and place them in a sterilised jar. Remove the spices from the liquid and add the sweet nectar to the figs. Seal and keep for up to 3 months. I keep mine in the fridge.
ease: 9/10. (This is not difficult, just takes some time).
prep time: 10mins.
cooking time: 25mins + 1 hour steeping + 5 mins jarring.
total: 1hour 40 mins.
taste: 9/10. These are delicious. Don’t get me wrong, the batch that I made is not identical in flavour to the purchased product and nor would I want it to be, because then it wouldn’t be my creation. It is however a sticky, sweet, spiced concoction that I will be proud to use. The sauce that is in my creation is thicker than that of its original counterpart but you can always add a little more water or even a dash of alcohol after it has cooled. I wouldn’t worry too much about burning off the alcohol content because the original seems more alcoholic than its homemade cousin.
would I make it again: You bet – It was not only being able to recreate something that I no longer have to buy, it was the achievement of looking at a label and being able to figure out what to use to get close to replicating the flavour that made it a pleasure to cook these. Besides that there are some very delicious ways to use these sweet little morsels, the simplest being on top of vanilla ice-cream.
I apologise for the quality of the photos, I couldn’t set up my studio in time.
I also promise to blog my stuffed pork loin recipe that I mentioned in my opening paragraph in the near future.