YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

The aperitif hour: grilled figs with pancetta

August 03, 2012|By S. Irene Virbila | Restaurant Critic
  • Grilled figs with pancetta, aceto balsamico and Parmesan from a "Mozza Cookbook" recipe are shown.
Grilled figs with pancetta, aceto balsamico and Parmesan from a "Mozza… (S. Irene Virbila / Los Angeles…)

This is a beautiful antipasti from “The Mozza Cookbook: Recipes from Los Angeles's Favorite Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria,” by Nancy Silverton with Matt Molina and Carolynn Carreno (Knopf, 2011, $35). Well, my photo isn’t so beautiful (I was overwhelmed and in a rush), but the taste is.

It’s an aperitif idea you need to know about if you have a prolific fig tree in the neighborhood. Besides figs, you’ll need some good aceto balsamico — the thick aged stuff from Modena that pours like motor oil. Also, pancetta cut as thinly as possible on a slicing machine.

After that, it’s a cinch. Basically, halve the figs. Wrap each half in pancetta and then grill, turning, until the pancetta is crisp.

Actually, I didn’t feel like starting the charcoal just for the figs, so I fired up a heavy cast iron skillet and sauteed the pancetta-wrapped figs over a moderately high flame.

Arrange on a platter, drizzle with a little aceto balsamico and top with shaved Parmigiano. I actually think the Parmesan could be optional.

I’m going to be making this again and again — I’m loving the sweet warm figs encased in crisped pancetta with those few drops of aceto balsamico pulling the flavors together.

What to drink? A rosé or crisp Pinot Grigio. The figs are great with a martini, too.


The (first) great fireman cookoff

Kitchen gadget: grill thermometer gauge

Eat Beat video: Roasted bacon potato salad

-- S. Irene Virbila

Los Angeles Times Articles