DIY Fall Appetizer: Fig Salami

Inside these cheesecloth packages are homemade salami, flavored with red wine, herbs and spices. But the main ingredient isn't meat – it's figs! These have some aging to do and won't be ready for another three weeks, but let's take a peek, shall we?

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Our fig salami are still in the early stages of the aging process – in another three weeks or so, they will have lost a lot of their moisture and have a nice firm texture. That's the plan, anyway!

We discovered fig salami at Provenance Food and Wine in Chicago, which has been carrying a version created by local chef Pete Manfredini. We served a log of it with a wedge of Taleggio and a loaf of crusty bread. The flavors of sweet figs, red wine and spices were the perfect foil for the powerful, creamy cheese.

So, with a rough idea of the process, we set out to create some fig salami of our own.

To start, we soaked one pound of dried Black Mission figs in one bottle of red wine with the zest of half an orange, two sprigs of rosemary and a heaping tablespoon of mulled wine spices tied in a cheesecloth sachet. For the wine, we used a bottle of Zahara Pinotage from Trader Joe's that we had on hand, and our mulled wine spice mix from the Spice House was made with cassia cinnamon bark, allspice, cloves, cassia buds, cardamom and mace.

We poured the whole mixture into a pitcher with a tight-fitting lid and let it sit on the counter for three days. By that time, the figs were plump and nicely scented.

We removed the rosemary, zest, spices and excess wine, and ground the soaked figs into a semi-smooth paste in the food processor, adding one teaspoon each of salt and black pepper. We mixed in one cup of toasted walnuts by hand, divided the mixture into four sections and rolled them into sausage shapes. These were dusted with powdered sugar and wrapped with cheesecloth to age for a month.

And now, we wait!

We sneaked a slice of the fig salami in the early stages, and all the flavors are there. Hopefully they'll just continue to develop as the aging process continues. We're looking forward to serving these throughout the fall and winter, and possibly giving them away as holiday gifts.

One note about aging – if you have had any issues with fruit flies, don't leave these out in the open to age. Ours are safe and sound in the refrigerator for this very reason. Hopefully that won't slow down the process too much. We'll check back in a few weeks and let you know how they're doing.