Food: Bourbon Fig Compote

We always like to take full advantage of the fruits in season since they are always plentiful and usually less expensive during the season than in the dead of winter.  Right now, there is an abundance of fresh, sweet figs and when someone tells you they have too many and asks if you would you like some, the answer is always, hell yes!!  

Most people are familiar with dried figs.  They often show up on charcuterie, cheese and dessert boards.  Fresh figs are soft, sweet, little bundles of joy and can be eaten as is, no peeling required.  The beautiful thing about figs is that you can create a compote with them that you can use in many ways.  You can also cook them down into a sauce or make a batch of jam that can be frozen for figs all year round.  So many figs, so little time!

Bourbon Fig Compote pairs perfectly with cheeses and nuts - a wedge of blue and wheel of brie, some fresh bread and roasted nuts with a healthy pour of bourbon…heaven!  You can even serve this warm over a brick of the dreaded cream cheese and serve with crackers, although in my opinion nothing much can improve cream cheese. But I included that because I am thoughtful, despite my dislike of cream cheese.   The compote can also take the place of a traditional apple sauce, served alongside pork chops, tenderloin, roast chicken, well, you get the idea. If you want to cut the sweetness, you can add some thyme or rosemary or your favorite herb and an extra splash of vinegar to give your compote a bit of a savory edge.   The options are limitless.

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I served this batch with pork chops, so I used some lemon ginger honey for the sweetener and complimented the flavor of the honey by using a lemon white balsamic vinegar.  You can use whatever type of sweetener you like and any type of acidic liquid, think white vinegar, balsamic, lemon juice, etc. One of the advantages of making a compote with any type of fruit is that you can use fruit that is bruised, misshapen or overripe as it will break down in the pot anyway.  


Bourbon Fig Compote:   

*this recipe makes 1 ½ to 2 cups

8-10 figs, halved

1 ½  tbsp lemon white balsamic vinegar (you can use any type of vinegar, balsamic, white etc or lemon juice)

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2 tbsp of lemon ginger honey (you can use white or brown sugar, maple syrup or honey)

3 tbsp bourbon + 2 oz

½ tsp kosher salt

1 tsp thyme or rosemary or the herb of your choice if you are making a savory compote (optional)


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  1. Place the figs in a small saucepan over low heat.

  2. Add all ingredients to the saucepan and give it a swirl with a spoon.    

  3. Pour yourself the 2 oz of bourbon, sit back and allow the low gentle heat do its thing.  You can enjoy your bourbon as the house fills with the aroma of your bourbon fig compote.

  4. Continue to cook over low heat for about 30-45 minutes, giving it an occasional stir or until it reaches the consistency you like.   Do not be tempted to crank the heat or the sugars will scorch and no one wants that.

  5. Be sure to give it a taste.  Caution! Hot fruit compote can easily burn, so be careful!  Adjust the flavors as needed. I found my compote a bit too sweet to pair with my pork chops (it would have been amazing over some brie!) so I added a splash of vinegar.  A pinch of your herbs or another pinch of salt might be necessary. Remove from heat.

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The longer it cooks, the thicker it will get.  When you get it to the consistency you want, just remove it from the heat.  It will also be chunky. If you prefer the compote to be smoother, once it has cooled, you can put it in your processor or blender or do what I did and take your potato masher and go to town while it’s still in the pot. Done!  Once it’s mashed, if you find that it’s a little too thick, you can add a bit of water to thin it out, starting with a tablespoon. Always start with small amounts and add gradually. The compote can be made in advance and refrigerated for up to two weeks.  Reheat gently over low heat. Enjoy!

Have questions about the recipe or want to share your experience making this?  What did you pair it with? I’d love to know! Leave a comment below or send me a direct message @mlinehan995 I hope you enjoy this simple compote just as much as I had making, sharing and eating it!


Maureen LInehan

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