Submitted by: Richard Hammond
Ingredients: 8 oz. naturally smoked nitrate-free bacon
2 dozen plump and juicy fresh figs (6 required)
½ cup preservative free apple cider
4 firm-ripe D’Anjou organic pears, chilled
1 large lemon, room temp
1 – 2 tbsp raw honey
Instructions: This recipe does require some special equipment: four 2 ½” x 2” ring molds but the presentation is totally worth it for a very special occasion or holiday dinner party…
THE MORNING of the PARTY:
Pre-heat the oven to 400° F
Split the figs in half lengthwise and place cut-side down into a ceramic baking dish (the figs should fit rather tightly so pick the size of this dish accordingly).
Add the cider to the baking dish and place the figs on the middle rack of the pre-heated oven. Roast for about 15 to 20 minutes until the figs are lightly caramelized and cooked through and the cider is largely evaporated.
Meanwhile finely chop the bacon into about ½” dice and place in a heavy skillet over medium low heat. Stir occasionally, cooking the bacon slowly and thoroughly until the fat is rendered and the bacon bits are lightly browned. Remove the pan from the heat.
When the figs are done, take 6 whole figs (twelve halves), remove any stems and finely chop them. The remaining figs may be stored, tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Use a silicone spatula to stir the chopped figs into the rendered bacon and mix thoroughly. Scrape this mixture into a small stainless mixing bowl and refrigerate for about an hour.
When the mixture is congealed, place a ring mold on the center of each of four appetizer plates. Spoon the mixture into the ring molds, packing them within about half to three-quarters of an inch from the top. Return all four plates to the refrigerator.
RIGHT BEFORE SERVICE:
Cut the lemon in half, squeeze one half into a small prep bowl, discarding any seeds and save the other half. Stir in the raw honey to taste. Peel one pear at a time and slice it thinly into strips. Take an appetizer out of the refrigerator and gently press pear slices into the ring mold, overlapping the strips to cover the bacon mixture.
Use a pastry brush to wash each layer of pears with honey & lemon, repeating layers at 90 degrees until the ring mold is filled. Return that appetizer to the refrigerator and do this three more times.
When you are ready to serve, take out the appetizers and use a sharp paring knife to cut around the inside of the ring and release each appetizer from its mold. Serve with a small fork and sharp knife and garnish each plate if desired with additional warmed-up roasted figs, some lightly toasted pecan or walnuts halves, whole almonds or even some edible flowers.