Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Balsamic Glazed Figs with Pancetta and Simili-Mascarpone

You know how a watched pot never boils? It turns out the reverse is all too true: an unwatched pan of caramelizing pancetta burns (even though nothing was even giving a hint of caramelizing when you were standing over the pan). So if you make this, do NOT leave the pan unattended, and add some olive oil to the pan first (which the original recipe didn’t mention). Apart from that little mishap, though, the dish turned out quite well (but the pictures are darker than I would like them to be). I used Tofutti’s Better Than Cream Cheese in place of the mascarpone, but what you use is up to you. The recipe is pretty liberal and consists more of guidelines than actual measurements. This is great as an appetizer or a very light lunch, so I’ll use the “sides/à côtés” tag.

pancetta (2 slices per person)
brown sugar
olive oil
small box of figs (allow about 4 figs person), halved
balsamic vinegar (2 Tbsp per person)
honey (1 Tbsp per person)
salt & pepper, to taste
mascarpone (or lactose-free equivalent)

Dust the pancetta with a bit of brown sugar and cook with olive oil in a non-stick skillet over high heat. Allow the pancetta to cook thoroughly and start to crisp. When ready, remove the pancetta from the pan and lay on a plate lined with a paper towel to dry the oil.

Remove most of the leftover pancetta oil from the skillet, and in the same pan add the figs with the balsamic vinegar and the honey. The balsamic will quickly start to thicken. Continue sautéing to prevent burning. Add salt and pepper to taste. When the liquids reduce to about half, remove from heat.

Now you're ready to plate! On each plate lay 2 slices of the pancetta. On top of the pancetta layer the figs and the reduction (divide equally between plates). Top with a dollop of mascarpone and enjoy!

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