Polenta Bouchees w/ Fig Balsamic Jam

fig jam9

I think I could just live on appetizers.

Tapas, antipasti, stuzzachini, cheese, bread, and little noshes would make me happy every night for dinner instead of a large meal.
With a nice bottle of red wine to go with, of course.

I recently attended the Taste of Nations Share our Strength dinner in Princeton, NJ, courtesy of Christo from Chez What, and I tasted these little polenta bites w/ fig jam.
I couldn't get them out of my mind. They were from Emily's Cafe in Pennington, and were out of this world.

Since I am certain that the chef would not part with his recipe for the fig marmalade, I made Thomas Keller's version from his Ad Hoc at Home cookbook.

I made my polenta (1 cup of polenta to 5 cups liquid & some fresh herbs). When it reached the right consistency, I poured it into a greased 9" x 13" glass dish and cooled in the fridge until firm, about 20 minutes.

I cut the polenta with a biscuit cutter into rounds and grilled them on an oiled grill.

I have never had luck with frying polenta. It may be the brand I use, but it never seems to get a nice crispy exterior, so I decided to grill the rounds and they came out great.

Top with the fig balsamic jam and sprinkle with some fresh chives and life is good.

Fig Balsamic Jam: (adapted from Ad Hoc)

1 lb. dried mission figs (or other dried figs), roughly chopped
1 cup cane sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp black peppercorns tied in a sachet (optional)

Place the figs, sugar, balsamic and water in a medium-sized sauce pan over medium heat. Once it comes to a bubbling simmer, reduce the heat to low, add the sachet and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the figs have absorbed most of the cooking liquid.

Remove from heat and carefully use a blender or food processor to puree the jam, pulsing only once or twice. I liked it chunky.

Stir in the lemon juice and let cool completely to room temperature. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 month.

Makes about 2 cups jam.

(I am freezing the rest of the polenta bouchees (bites) to make other appetizers: polenta with caramelized onions and gorgonzola!).



Steve said…
I'm with you on the appetizer thing. Great idea here. Believe I'll just whip up a batch this weekend. Eat some and put some up for later.
p.s. Finally cut through to TasteSpotting with some posts. Hallelujah!
Carol Egbert said…
This looks great. Little bites of perfect combinations are much better than heaps of so-so food.
momgateway said…
I'm in fig heaven right now with this..have you tried figs with chocolates..use calamyra ones...they're awesome...
The JR said…
Can hardly wait to sink my teeth into the fresh figs on our trees. I'm very tempted to try this marmalade recipe with them too!
Claudia said…
I am of the "I'm not hungry, I'll just pick" mentality. Appetizers could be my daily meal. have a jar of roasted, glazed figs that I am going to try with the balsamic. Thanks for the inspiration.
mil said…
I'm sure Paul and "the girls" would love to make these treats.
Hope he reads the blog today.
kat said…
those look heavenly. I too could live on appetizer meals, especially in the summer
That jam looks divine. My grandmother always made fig preserves and I'm quite sure she never even heard of balsamic vinegar. Rosemary
Joanne said…
If I had my way I would only order appetizers from restaurants, all the time. They are always so enticing. I love that jam!
Ciao Chow Linda said…
You haven't posted a fig recipe for a while, but you made up for it with this one.
You just know it's good by the looks of that jam, you do wonders with figs!
Stacey, this is the second time this week I've seen grilled polenta. What a great idea.

Your fig jam is perfect with balsamic vinegar and I couldn't leave out the optional peppercorns. Somehow I knew you wouldn't be satisfied with store bought fig jam.

I'm sure you had a great time if Christo was there. I would love to be able to say hello in person one day and thank him for all of his help.
tasteofbeirut said…
Love that appetizer! It is the contrast between the polenta and the fig jam that really got me! If you don't mind, I will use my lebanese jam recipe (with sesame seeds and anise)
Great dish.
lisa is cooking said…
Living on appetizers would be fine with me! Especially when polenta is involved. I've just started cooking from Ad Hoc at Home but haven't made it to jams yet. The fig jam looks fantastic.
Unknown said…
Looks great! Came to your blog via Serious Eat Photgrazing b/c I was thinking about making polenta this afternoon for a neighborhood party. I love 'small bites' too - a tray of these little guys will look beautiful!