anyway, 'things i've never had before' is pretty much half of any grocery store, cause, you see, i grew up with a mom who didnt know that people ate anything other than grape jelly. no joke, i sent her out for strawberry jelly (i'm not a spoiled brat - my leg was broken, so she was shopping) and she looked at me as if i had asked her to first grow the strawberries and then make the jelly herself...
the latest in my new food adventures nearly turned out to be my last... i kept seeing figs at the store and realized that, save for fig newtons, i had NO idea what a fig tasted like... so i picked up two containers - one white and one traditional and brought them home and then thought - ok, now what?
turns out a lot of people were into figs, cause i saw a number of recipes on the web but none that caught my eye as much as the Butter Braised Figs with Parmigiano-Reggiano & Toasted Almonds over at jenniferjeffry.com
it all started out ok - preparing the figs was fairly simple. I was sure that i was going to have one of those great, simple-yet-impressive dishes on my hand.
it totally faked me out - i put the butter in the pan and set out to braise. (i dont know that i'd ever braised before. it was quite exciting!) I found that the figs behaved exactly as promised and wow - this is going to be SO easy!
i really was feeling quite proud of myself at this point and you can almost picture me, chest puffed out, shit-eating grin on my face measuring out the balsamic vinegar... with no care as to the fact that i'd never made balsamic reduction before... i mean, how hard could *that* possibly be?
and i ask you, have i not learned my lesson yet? because from the moment that vinegar hit that butter, it was O.V.E.R.
things started going wrong. vinegar was splattering as if i'd put a gallon of water into a deep fryer.
i thought that it was, perhaps, just an immediate reaction and would quickly remedy itself...
oh hell no.
i finally decided that the best course of action was probably to remove the mess from the heat - #1, open flames and spewing liquid strikes me as dangerous and #2, most of the vinegar was on the stovetop at this point anyway... so i turned off the flame and attempted to remove the pan from the burner.
(yes, that's my bedroom reflected in this last picture. yes, its a mess. this blog is not called 'bedroom hell', so can we ignore that? focus on the vinegar on my face instead. i'm even making it easy and pointing to the biggest spatter.)
apparently a bubble of some sort had formed. and the moment it cooled, it exploded. now, its been a long time since i took a chem class, but since when does vinegar or butter create golfball sized bubbles and explode???? is it possible that i have discovered a new scientific phenomenon? i highly doubt it, but you never know...
once i realized that i wasnt hurt and that the kitchen was not on fire, i found the whole thing to be wildly entertaining. toby wanted to 'clean up' for me, but i dont know if dogs should be eating such things, so really, my biggest challenge (after photographing the mess) was keeping the dog away while i cleaned up the slimy floor.
funny enough, there was still some stuff in the pan. i decided to pretend it was proper reduction and call it a day...
honestly, they werent as good as i would have hoped. perhaps the almonds (from the original recipe - which i had but forgot to use in the melee) would have helped or maybe i could have picked better figs. or maybe, just maybe, actually preparing a proper balsamic reduction would have been the difference...
Butter Braised Figs with Parmigiano-Reggiano
adapted courtesy of jenniferjeffrey.com
1 pint ripe figs - half white, half traditional
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Rinse the figs and dry. Slice off the pointed tops from the figs and make a cross-shaped cut about halfway deep into each fig. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and sauté the figs for 2 to 3 minutes, or until they start to 'bloom'.
Remove the figs to a plate. Sprinkle a little grated cheese into the now-bloomed cross cuts.
make sure the fire extinguisher is nearby.
Add the balsamic vinegar to the remaining butter in the saucepan, and reduce into a syrup. (good luck. seriously, good luck.)
Drizzle the syrup over the figs.
eat while still warm.