The Ticonderoga Farms Fig Feast is in its second year, and had a happy crowd waiting to enjoy the farm-fresh figs. This year visitors were treated to Chef Patierno of Girasole and Panino demonstrating how to make his beautiful fig tart. As he talked about the tart, he had many good things to say about Ticonderoga figs, emphasizing that these are the only figs he uses now because of their high quality. As someone who has eaten these figs for the last year, I have to agree.
After the demonstration and sips of local wine with the main course, we took a hay ride up to the hillside fig grove, where trees grow all the way to the top overlooking the Virginia countryside. Many of the figs were ripening, with the bottoms opening and the juice beginning to reveal itself, and some were past ripe, attracting happy insects. In the middle of the fig orchard is a grape arbor, a surprise for those of us who made the trek uphill.
After returning to the barn, we sampled the tart with ice cream, a tasty finish to a relaxing afternoon.
(Click slideshow to view full-size images on my photography site.)
Figs are not just for sweet desserts, they also pair well with chicken, fish, lamb, and veal in a sauce or lightly cooked and served with the meat. In this dish, the chicken is roasted with onions, then finished on the stove with a honey wine sauce, and the Turkish figs are added during the last five minutes of cooking. This leaves the figs intact and infused with the wine and honey. It a simple, lovely dish that is good both as a homey family meal as well as for guests. A seasonal greens salad and chunk of artisan bread make perfect sides.
For an interesting flavor, I use Ticonderoga Farms award-winning honey, which has a deep amber color and rich flavor later in the season, though you could use any honey you are able to find. If you prefer, you can use a combination of chicken breasts and thighs instead of a whole chicken.
- 1 chicken, about 3 pounds (1.4 kg), cut into 6 to 8 pieces and trimmed
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and sliced
- 4 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) medium-dry white wine
- 2/3 cup (160 ml) chicken stock, homemade or purchased
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 10 ripe figs
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Warm the olive oil over medium heat and brown the chicken on both sides, about 8 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a towel and remove any of the white bits in the bottom of the pan. Add the onions and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Return the chicken to the pot with the thyme and bay leaf. Pour the wine and chicken stock over the chicken and place in the oven, uncovered. Cook until the meat is tender, the skin is golden, and the liquid is reduced by half, about 30 minutes.
- Return the pot to the stove over low heat. Stir together the wine and honey and pour in the pot. Stem and quarter the figs and place them in the pot. Bring to a boil and allow to bubble until the liquid reduces to a syrupy consistency, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.
4 to 5 quart oven-proof Dutch oven
If you prefer, you can use a combination of chicken breasts and thighs instead of a whole chicken.