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Fig salami, aka salume di fichi, is most often described a southern Italian specialty—particularly Calabrian or Neaopolitan. But Pete Manfredini (ex-Saloon Steakhouse, Napa Valley Grille, Green Dolphin Street, One SixtyBlue) first learned a Tuscan variant in Napa at the CIA's Greystone. It's fig season now, but this aged mock sausage is a herald of the holiday season with its notes of clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.
Manfredini macerates Black Mission figs with the spices in Chianti for three days, then adds fennel seeds, walnuts, and black pepper. He shapes them, dusts them with powdered sugar—which acts as a desiccant—wraps them in cheesecloth, and hangs them for 30 days. "They hold forever after that," he says.
At the end of the month it's firmed up and looks a bit like a blood sausage but tastes gently sweet and spicy, and works as a counterpoint on a cheese plate or salumi platter. Manfredini suggests eating it with a mid-palate Chianti, naturally, or a Rhone or Rioja. "Try it with some spicy coppa or some capicolla," he says. "Something with just a little bit of fire to it, and then go with some really nice earthy cheeses. Even a dry Parm is just fabulous with it. Try it up against two or three different things and it'll really change the flavor of what you're eating. Good bottle of red and you're halfway to a great meal."
Incidentally, Manfredini says he's working on some duck and goose prosciutto. Keep an eye out for that around the holidays.