Frank Stitt, owner of Highlands Bar & Grill in Birmingham, Alabama, started his culinary education by working for the late great cookbook author Richard Olney in Provence, France. This appetizer, in which ripe figs are stuffed with walnuts, wrapped in ham and kissed on the grill, is a riff on devils on horseback inspired by Olney’s love of seasonal ingredients. Make them ahead of time so you can spend plenty of time with your guests, says Stitt, but be sure the wine is the perfect temperature. He recommends serving this appetizer with Krug Grande Cuvée Champagne, which has a creaminess and bright juicy acidity that pairs perfectly with salty, sweet figs and thickened lemon cream.
10 paper-thin slices country ham (such as Benton’s) or prosciutto, with some fat left on, halved lengthwise
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Tabasco hot sauce
1 small lemon
1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, very thinly sliced
How to Make It
Roughly chop leaves and stems of 3 mint sprigs. Place in a mortar and pestle, and grind until thoroughly crushed. Add lemon juice, and let stand 1 hour.
Preheat a charcoal or gas grill to medium-high (about 450°F). Grease grill grates with olive oil.
While grill preheats, gently press 1 walnut half into cut side of each fig half. Wrap 1 ham slice around each walnut-stuffed fig half.
Place cream in a small bowl. Place mint mixture in a wire-mesh strainer over cream, and press on mint solids to extract liquid. Season with salt, a splash of hot sauce, and lemon zest. Stir until mixture thickens.
Place stuffed figs on oiled grill grate, and grill, uncovered, until ham is lightly charred, fat has begun to melt, and figs begin to soften and ooze, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter. Grate lemon over warm figs. Garnish with sliced mint, and serve immediately with mint cream.
To broil, place figs on an aluminum foil–lined baking sheet; broil on high about 6 inches from heat, 2 minutes. Flip figs, and broil until fat has begun to melt and figs begin to soften and ooze, 2 to 3 minutes. Mint cream may be made 1 day ahead. Chill until ready to serve.
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