Whiskey, plus bacon, plus FIGS… who knew? Figs are such a versatile fruit, with so many varieties and complexities in flavor. So let’s break some popular varietals down in relatable terms– through the language of wine, of course:
- Black Mission – The Cabernet of figs. Purple and black skin, with a deep, earthy flavor.
- Brown Turkey – The Pinot Noir of figs. Light purple to black skin, with a robust flavor.
- Calimyrna – The Chardonnay of figs. Yellow/pale green skin, with a buttery, nutty flavor.
Figs also boast a ton of health benefits. They’re an excellent source of fiber, plus minerals like calcium, potassium, iron and zinc. They even have more antioxidants than red wine or tea! What’s not to love?
Here are some fun facts… you know, just in case you’re ever on “Jeopardy” and “Figs” happens to be a category:
Figs are in season for most of the year (from mid-May through December)
Wasps are the only pollinators of figs. No wasps, no figs. Crazy, huh?
Early Olympic athletes ate figs while training. Somehow, fig laurels were also awarded to winners, making them the first Olympic “medal.” Hmm, interesting cycle there.
Plus, did you know that 98% of the nation’s fresh figs are grown in California? Or that 100% of dried figs also hail from Cali? Just another reason to be proud of our stellar state! California Love, all the way.
Naturally, I had to get my hands on some fresh figs. And you probably should, too. And although they’re great on their own in fresh form, sometimes you get a little over-eager and end up with way too many to eat right away. So what’s a fig-fanatic to do when your fresh figs are mushing up in the heat as each second passes?
Whiskey Bacon Fig Jam on Vanilla Ice Cream – A surprisingly craveworthy combination! Photo cred: Tanaya Ghosh
I love a good sweet-savory combination, so I thought I’d better turn them into a jam. A bacon and whiskey fig jam, to be exact. That way, I can top my ice cream with it… because I’m always looking for new ways to reinvent my ice cream during the summer months. And what better way to do that than by gettin’ figgy with it? (oh come on… fig + pun = FUN!)
This recipe also has a secret little kick– in the form of a dash (or two) of Sriracha. For jam recipes, improvisation and innovation with what you’ve got is key. So if you don’t have all the recipe ingredients sitting in your pantry, don’t stress– you can always create your own flavor profile using the fig-bacon-whiskey trifecta as your base. You can even substitute dried figs if you so desire.
So here it is… a little boozy, jammy, hint-of-savory goodness, as promised:
Whiskey Bacon Fig Jam
- 12 fresh figs (preferably Mission)
- 4 strips thick-cut bacon
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup whiskey
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (optional)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
In a heavy-bottomed pan with a lid, brown the bacon. Remove the bacon and set aside. Drain all but one tablespoon of the bacon fat from the pot.
Add shallots and sauté until softened, over medium heat. Add remaining ingredients except lemon juice and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, crumble the bacon and add it to the pot.
Reduce heat and partially cover the pot, while continuing to simmer. Stir occasionally until the mixture reduces to a thicker, syrup-like consistency.
Add lemon juice. Pour mixture into a food processor and blend until smooth.
Final step: Enjoy your boozy, bacon-y, figgy jam. It’s pretty awesome on crisp toast, adds a savory-sweet textural component to cool, creamy ice cream, and is great rolled into croissant dough. You can even glaze your chicken with it and bake it for dinner!
How’s that for some summer “fig-spiration”?