Fig Salami is a unique substitute for the usual cured sausage on a cheese plate; because it’s fruity, it works as well before or after dinner. It takes minutes to make, but plan ahead so it has time to set up and “cure” four or five days — after that, it will keep weeks in the refrigerator.
My inspiration for this yummy treat came from Patricia Wells’ book Vegetable Harvest about the fruits and vegetables of my beloved Provence in the South of France. For the wine used in fruit salamis, I used the last of my bottle of Figoun, for which I’ll give a quick recipe at the end.
• 4 cups chopped dried figs (I used 32 large figs)
• 4 tbsp sweet red wine
• 2 tbsp whole fennel seeds
• small pinch sea salt, fleur de sel
1. Snip off the hard stems of the figs and then cut them in quarters. I used scissors to do all this.
2. Put the figs into the bowl of your food processor and pulse a couple times. Drizzle the wine over the figs and let them rest just a couple minutes to soak it up and soften a bit.
3. Add the sea salt, then pulse a few more times until the figs begin to break up. Run the processor until the figs begin to form a ball and are finely chopped. Pulse in the fennel seeds, just a couple pulses; you don’t want to break the seeds.
4. Pull out the blade, then wet your hands and gather up the fig mixture. Wet your hands again as necessary to keep the mixture from sticking to your hands. Knead in your hands a few times until you see that the fennel is well distributed. Wet hands again and form into 4 logs, about 1 inch thick and 5 inches long.
5. Set the fig salamis, unwrapped, on a piece of parchment, covered with a layer of cheesecloth. Set them aside in a clean place where they won’t be disturbed for two or three days, turning the rolls daily.
6. When the salamis have dried and gotten more firm, wrap them. Parchment paper is traditional, but plastic wrap will work. Place in a plastic bag, and refrigerate. They will keep in the refrigerator for weeks.
Serve your fig salamis as part of a cheese platter. Cut a few slices about a scant half-inch thick on the plate, partner with a selection of cheeses such as blue, Cambazola, and maybe a Stilton — just pick your favorites.
Yields about one and a half pounds
If you’d like to make your own Figoun, a spiced, figgy infused sweet wine from Provence, it’s very easy.
• 2 cups dried figs
• 1-inch-by-3-inch piece of orange peel
• one vanilla bean
• 2 tbsp whole coriander seed
• 1 tbsp whole allspice
• 750 ml red port wine
1. Buy an inexpensive port; you’ll add so much goodness to it, you can use the cheap stuff.
2. Put the figs and the spices, peel and vanilla bean into a half-gallon jar, or divide among 2 quarts. Pour the port over, put the lid on and put your jar in the back of a dark cupboard. Forget about it for a couple months.
3. When you’re ready, strain your Figoun through your finest strainer, funneling back into the wine bottle (I recommend scrubbing the label off first. Put on your own label, maybe a fancy one).
4. Save the vanilla bean; it still has a lot to give.
Serve Figoun as an aperitif, perhaps with club soda over ice and a twist of lemon peel, or you can serve in cordial glasses as dessert.