We are honored that Chef John Besh has allowed us a sneak peak of four of his recipes from his soon-to-be-released cookbook, My New Orleans: The Cookbook (publishing Oct. 6, 2009). Recipes reprinted with permission from Andrews McMeel Publishing.
I love using my granddaddy’s favorite Celeste figs, the most common in our neck of the woods, but just about any fig will work in these preserves. Larger figs should be quartered before the sugar is added.
5 pounds fresh figs
5 pounds sugar
1. Wash the figs, then trim off the stem ends. Put the figs into a large pot and cover with the sugar. Allow them to sit at room temperature for 3 hours or so.
2. Heat the figs and the sugar, stirring constantly, over moderate heat. Once the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat to high and bring to a hard boil.
3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and gently boil for 40 minutes, stirring frequently.
4. The preserves are done when the foam that has formed on the surface dissipates and the syrup coats the back of the spoon. Ladle the figs and syrup into hot, sterilized jars, leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars clean, then place sterilized lids on top and screw on the rings.
5. Put the filled jars into a canning pot and cover with water at least 2 inches over the jar tops. Bring to a boil and boil for 15 minutes. Use tongs to carefully remove the jars from the water; place on a kitchen towel. Allow the jars to cool completely before you move them.
Note: To sterilize the jars, bottles, and lids for all the preserves in this chapter, place them on a rack in a large canning pot, fill with water to the tops of the jars and bring the water to a boil for 5 minutes. Then, use tongs to carefully remove the jars and bottles. Drain them upside down on a clean kitchen towel until ready to fill.