Crispy Fried Goat Cheese Stuffed Figs with Spicy Honey
Yields 6 servings
from Chef Michael Gulotta of August in New Orleans, Louisiana
3 quarts canola oil for frying
¼ teaspoon Aleppo pepper
1 cup local honey
8 ounces fresh goat cheese
6 leaves basil, thinly sliced
Salt to taste
12 fresh figs
1 egg yolk
2 ½ cups club soda
1 cup rice flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
Preheat oil to 360 degrees in a tall-sided pot or small fryer.
Mix Aleppo pepper into honey and reserve. In a medium mixing bowl, whip goat cheese to soften and fold in the basil. Season cheese lightly with salt and place into a piping bag. A heavy-duty ziptop bag with the corner cut off will also suffice.
Using the tip of a sharp knife, cut an X into the bottom of each fig. To stuff, hold a fig firmly in one hand, place tip of the piping bag into the center of the carved X, and begin squeezing. The fig will inflate almost like a balloon. Force as much cheese as you can into the fig without it tearing. The figs can also be stuffed the day before and refrigerated- just cover and do not stack on top of each other.
For tempura batter, whisk together egg yolk and club soda, followed by both flours. The batter should not be overly thick or clumpy. Dip figs one at a time into batter and coat evenly, then drop them gently into hot oil. Use a slotted spoon to roll them around ensuring even browning on all sides. Be careful not to overload the fryer as this will cause the temperature to drop. Once figs are golden brown, transfer to a paper towel-lined tray and sprinkle evenly with salt.
Transfer figs to a platter, drizzle with honey, and garnish with a few small leaves of basil. Serve immediately.
Note: The figs can be held in a warm 200-degree oven for about 15 minutes, but are better served immediately.