Sunday, August 12, 2007

Pancetta-Wrapped Figs

Showcasing The Fatted Calf's new straight-cut Pancetta

picture photograph image Figs wrapped in Fatted Calf Pancetta 2007 copyright of sam breach
I keep thinking I've written all there is to be said about The Fatted Calf, but like a magician who pulls another bunny out of the hat, these San Francisco based charcuterie makers still surprise me on a regular basis. What was once a big fat, swirly round of cured pork is now a delicate, straight, wafer thin ribbon that puckers and curls so prettily when you lightly pan fry it. It's fairly salty when cooked this way so plan to balance it against something less so.

picture photograph image Fatted Calf Pancetta 2007 copyright of sam breach
Forget about wrapping your figs with fiddly imported Prosciutto - this Pancetta works out so, so much better. Each piece is straight, even and slightly smaller than a fig in width which results in the neatest of parcels that Prosciutto could never hope to match.

picture photograph image Figs wrapped in Fatted Calf Pancetta 2007 copyright of sam breach
Each piece of Pancetta is hemmed with a tiny line of rind. Make sure this side faces the top of the fig so it'll become crisped by the grill. For inspiration I used a recipe in The Produce Bible, a great book I have recommended before. Simply cut a cross in the top of each fig and stuff with rosemary (the original recipe uses sage but I didn't have any). Wrap your pancetta around the fig, finishing it off by tucking the end underneath. Clarify a couple of tablespoons of butter and mix with the juice of half an orange. Brush generously over the figs and then pop them under a hot grill for just two or three minutes until the pancetta rind is golden. Remove the rosemary and serve warm or at room temperature. Listen and smile as "oohs" and "ahhs" and satisfied silences reverberate around the kitchen. Whereas cooked proscitto can become hard, chewy and over-salty in this kind of preparation, the pancetta remains light and melts in your mouth adding a delicate, crispy, salted bite to the juicy fig it enrobes.

The Fatted Calf Pancetta can also be eaten uncooked and it's got great flavour. The rind, although small, may be a little bit combative for some tastes, but anyone with a decent pair of carnivorous incisors should find it worth the effort.

picture photograph image Piadine Fatted Calf Pancetta 2007 copyright of sam breach
I was hoping to serve these Piadina to my guests as well. I was following a recipe in the September 2007 issue of Food & Wine but I didn't care for the results. The magazine describes them as irresistible but that is not a word I would have used. Mine came out bland, dry and tasteless (and yes - I did remember to add the salt to the dough). Perhaps I did something wrong, or maybe that is the authentic taste, but I wasn't a fan. Don't worry - I served the innards as a salad instead. (Anyone have a use for 11 rounds of uncooked piadina dough? Maybe some kind of jam tart!)

From the Fred perspective - the Frenchman isn't himself sure he likes the new pancetta. But he is crazy-mad about the new bresaola. The Fatted Calf have this week switched from using Marin Sun Farms beef to Prather Ranch. We did a side by side taste test of the two yesterday and sure enough what we already thought was wonderful now tastes even better.

Local Resources
In the interests of transparency - I have gotten to know the people at The Fatted Calf pretty well by now.
Tairwa Knoll Farms currently have absolutely perfect looking figs. These green ones weren't too sweet.

Other Resources & Further Reading
As you may have noticed - I recently took a little break from blogging. It was for several reasons that all came together and caused me to lose my inspiration and the will to blog. Sometimes, in the past, I have felt compelled to blog, even when I didn't particularly want to. That is not a healthy way to be. I have to remember, this is a hobby, not a business. Sometimes I think I have forgotten - this is meant to be fun - this is about what I want to do - not what other people expect of me. I don't like to disappoint other people but I think I am going to have to. So going forward I will only be blogging about what I want to and when I want to, and when there aren't other things that need my attention elsewhere. There are other things in my life that I have sometimes let slip lower down the list of priorities when they should have been at the top of things I should pay attention to. Family, friends and work, not my blog, are at the most important things and if my blog suffers because they need attention, so be it. I imagine there will be spurts of activity interjected with longer bouts of silence going forward. I am feeling a little bit insular right now. I think I have to try and be all things to myself instead of trying to be all things to everyone else. That's what I am currently thinking. Of course I have to retain the right to change my mind later.

2005 | Eating Out and Eating Local - Tabla, Marin

© 2007 Sam Breach
Pancetta-Wrapped Figs


  • At 12/8/07 16:23, Blogger Alice Q. Foodie said…

    That looks good - I happen not to be a fan of rosemary, but I think it would be really nice with sage.

    Amen on the paragraph about taking break. I have had to back off a little too, to keep work and everything else in check.

  • At 12/8/07 17:00, Blogger Barbara said…

    Wow Sam, great photos, but I particularly like the sound of the pancetta. The best of those types of charcuterie available here are imported and so expensive they are an occaisional luxury. I'd be interested to know how much they cost in the US. I pay $11 for a 100grams of a good serrano from Spain. That doesn't go far for entertaining, or sharing with the rest of the family who all love it too.

    Nice to see you back and we understand.

  • At 12/8/07 17:37, Blogger Tea said…

    You're back! (if only for today). Yay. Totally understand, of course, but know that you are missed!

  • At 12/8/07 18:08, Blogger Kevin Kossowan said…

    Good for you.

  • At 12/8/07 18:44, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm proud of you, Sam! You won't be surprised to learn that I agree 100% that it's important to take care of yourself and all that you value in your life first and then only write when you're inspired. And Taylor's new pancetta is definitely inspirational, especially when it snuggles up to some Knoll figs like in your photo.

    But, really, 12 days? You call that a break? Ha! ;-)

  • At 12/8/07 18:52, Blogger Cate said…

    Nice to see you back, Sam, if only for now. I totally get where you're coming from - it's amazing how quickly we feel obligated to something like a blog, isn't? I've been taking three days off a week lately, sometimes more, sometimes, less, and it's been really nice. :) Priorities and all.

  • At 12/8/07 18:57, Blogger Unknown said…

    I totally agree with you on the wise words about blogging for pleasure. Thank you for being so honest.

  • At 12/8/07 20:06, Blogger Kalyn Denny said…

    Lovely photos, and nice to see you back. I think you should blog exactly as you feel like and don't worry about what anyone else thinks.

  • At 12/8/07 20:13, Blogger Lisa the Waitress said…

    thanks for your honesty.

    and for popping back by. I love figs and pork products, too - wish figs grew nearby. Lucky you!!

    thanks for the update.

    cheers, girl.

  • At 12/8/07 20:53, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Nice to see you back with a beautiful post, and gorgeous pictures. Despite my being veggie, I still enjoyed the pictures!

  • At 12/8/07 21:14, Blogger Casey said…

    stunning pictures!
    delighted to see you posting again. even if the posts become infrequent at times, they'll always be a treat.

  • At 12/8/07 22:41, Blogger Renee said…

    Nice to hear from you again. You were missed.
    The picture of the figs is inspirational.
    I've never heard of eating pancetta raw before. Hmmm

  • At 12/8/07 22:43, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Those photos are awesome. It's nice to see you back again, Sam! :)

  • At 12/8/07 23:26, Blogger Civic Center said…

    Frankly, I was scared as if a darkness had come over the world, when you announced you had "lost your appetite."

    Your return to appetite was definitely marked, as casey said, by "stunning pictures!" Infrequent is fine, particularly since you're already the Queen of Links and you've done all the work. Relax and enjoy.

  • At 13/8/07 02:38, Blogger ChrisB said…

    Sam this looks lovely now if only I could take photos like that but I suppose I should learn to cook like you first!!

  • At 13/8/07 05:20, Blogger Andreea said…

    interesting combo.
    grea to see you back. i keep repeating myself all the time: this is not my job. this is not my job. as long as we can keep it as a fun hobby, it's all good :)

  • At 13/8/07 05:33, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    That picture of the fried pancetta stacked like bacon? Drool! I've always thought you were Wonder Woman with your prolific, high quality posts. I will be happy to read whatever you choose to put out there. Thanks for blogging!

  • At 13/8/07 06:03, Blogger Jeanne said…

    Mmmm, that pancetta MUST be good to bring you out of blogging hiatus... ;-) Lovely to have you back. Your description of Fatted Calf stuff makes me want to move straight to SF. This recipe sounds delicious - love the rosemary idea although I'm sure it would be fantastic with sage too. Fantastic pics.

  • At 13/8/07 07:14, Blogger Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said…

    Welcome back--you've been missed! And thank you for giving me reason #429 why I need to hightail it SF and shop at the Fatted Calf. That pancetta is simply gorgeous!

  • At 13/8/07 07:53, Blogger Catherine said…

    the figs are awfully pretty! hmmm...tempeh?

  • At 13/8/07 08:14, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Those look great. we moved to a house with an old fig tree this year and i've been wondering what we'll do with all the fruit.

    Thanks for coming back on by birthday!

  • At 13/8/07 08:49, Blogger Figs, Bay, Wine said…

    You're back! Even if just for today, thank you for such a gorgeous recipe! The pancetta looks heavenly. And wrapped around figs with rosemary and orange? I'm beside myself.

  • At 13/8/07 09:37, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I don't eat bacon, and rarely have a desire to, but your pancetta wrapped figs have me yearning for that gorgeous pancetta! It's great to have you back - you were missed!

  • At 13/8/07 10:43, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    That pancetta looks so beautiful! And you described it so well, I feel like I can practically taste it.

    As for the piadine, I'm sorry they didn't turn out well. They're meant to be all pliable and flaky and truly delicious, so I can imagine how disappointed you were. Don't give up yet, though! They're worth figuring out.

  • At 13/8/07 12:18, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    enidd's glad you're back, and totally understands. she feels a little the same herself at the moment. let's meet soon and cook together?

  • At 13/8/07 14:35, Blogger Freddie L Sirmans, Sr. said…

    Just browsing the internet, You have a very, very interesting blog.

  • At 13/8/07 15:01, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    YAY!! You're back!

    Those figs look so delicious, and I love anything with rosemary. I find that most of the fresh figs I find around here are mushy and tasteless - which makes them hardly worth buying. I could see that not being a problem in San Francisco.

    Hand to Mouth

  • At 13/8/07 15:10, Blogger Dive said…

    Yes, bacon will inspire anyone to write...why do you think I call it Bacon Press???

    As far as the writing thing goes, you have to do it out of love. If you aren't writing out of love, you are writing out of hate, and hate is very wrong. Very.

    There are times when there's no love in my cooking. There is only pure, unseasoned hate. Sometimes I wonder how hate got into my food and then I remember cooking out of necessity and not love - though, I will cook out of hate if the moment strikes me. Nevertheless, plenty of hot sauce is a good attempt at covering it up, okay sure...but hate's no substitute for love. Trust me, I've tried like 6 or 7 different hot sauces without feeling even a fleeting semblance of compassion from a bowl of box mac and cheese.

    Don't perpetrate the hate (writing). Write when the moment's right and there's fierce joy in your soul.

    Or stock up on hot sauce.


  • At 13/8/07 18:17, Blogger Rachael said…

    Absolutely love your photography, writing and recipes! Just added you to my "watch" list : )

    Three cheers for taking a break. I tend to blog in spurts, and sometimes I hardly blog at all. In those moments I have to remind myself that I am blogging for my own pleasure and food should be a joy, not merely an item on my to-do list (if I can help it)

  • At 13/8/07 20:26, Blogger Sam said…

    thanks everyone - for all the kind word. I must stick with bacon and with love and all other good things. Thanks to you my dear readers, for being amongst the good things!


  • At 14/8/07 07:31, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    good on ya, girl. if we don't have bacon and love, what do we have?!


  • At 21/8/07 14:03, Blogger Chubbypanda said…

    Back and peddling pork! Hurray!

    I missed you.

  • At 24/8/07 03:14, Blogger divinacucina said…

    Ciao bella and Baci from Firenze and your whole hog friend.. diva!!!

    I do a riff with pancetta from a recipe I had at the Vucceria market, when it closes at night..and stands come out with Grills!!!

    PAncetta wrapped Scallions.. grilled!

    instead of lamb intestines..

    This week I couldn't find scallions so used the new red onions , in scallion form... and they were FAB!

    Take care of yourself!

  • At 8/9/07 22:50, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I like your blog and your great photos! Just looking on them makes my mouth watering. The pancetta looks very seducing. Thanks a lot for sharing this recipe.

  • At 9/9/07 09:36, Blogger Pille said…

    I'm so making this dish the moment I get hold of some good figs (I won't be able to find The Fatted Calf's pancetta, of course, but I'm sure I'll find a suitable local alternative). Great photos!!


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