Jeffrey and I went to Provence with our dearest friends, Barbara and Bobby Liberman, who took us to the Bistrot de Mougins, one of their favorite restaurants. The owner, Alain Ballatore, kindly gave me the recipe for their famous fig tart, which inspired these fig preserves. OMG. It may be the best thing I've ever made! Whenever I serve it on a cheese board, my guests always insist on taking the leftovers home!
- 2 teaspoons grated orange zest (2 oranges)
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 3¾ cups sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 2 pounds fresh ripe purple figs, stems removed and halved lengthwise
- 12 slices sourdough bread, for serving
- 8 ounces creamy goat cheese, such as Montrachet, for serving
Place the orange zest and orange juice in a medium (10-inch) heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset. Add the sugar, vanilla bean, and figs to the pot. Cover and bring to a full boil over medium heat. (Don't worry; it may look dry.) Stir the mixture and boil hard for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Lower the heat, and cook uncovered at a full simmer for 50 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want the little bubbles to be throughout the pot, not just at the edges. After 45 minutes, refrigerate a small amount of the liquid to see if it becomes syrupy. It should be like a soft fruit preserve. Keep cooking just until the liquid starts to gel when cold. If the liquid is too firm, add a little orange juice or water, cook for a minute, and test it again until it's right. Depending on how ripe the figs are, they will probably keep their shape, but it's fine if they don't. Discard the vanilla bean and serve or refrigerate.
Before serving, toast or grill the bread and spread with goat cheese. Spoon the fig preserves on top and serve.
Make Ahead: The fig preserves can be prepared up to 2 weeks ahead and refrigerated. Toast the bread and assemble the bruschettas before serving.