Black Mission figs fill the grocery store in September and are often available until the end of October. This fall dish, with its saffron-laced, bright yellow sauce, takes full advantage of them. The fruit's sweetness combines with the richness of the cream, the sweet saltiness of the prosciutto and the slight tang of Cambozola cheese. If you like a more pronounced blue cheese flavor, substitute gorgonzola for the Cambozola.
Make Ahead: The sauce can be made a day in advance.
Servings: 4 - 6 6 first-course servings or 4 main-course servings
- 2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for the pasta water
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup homemade or no-salt-added chicken broth
- 3 ounces Cambozola cheese (rind removed)
- 8 ounces black mission figs, stems trimmed, quartered lengthwise (about 8 medium figs)
- 1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted (see NOTE)
- 1 recipe (16 to 18 ounces) saffron pasta dough, cut into fettuccine (see Basic Pasta Dough recipe, saffron variation)
- 2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
- Chopped chives, for garnish
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.
Meanwhile, combine the cream, saffron, salt and pepper in a large saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until the cream has thickened and has reduced to 1 3/4 cups (see NOTES). Add the broth and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and add the cheese, stirring until it is melted. Add the figs and walnuts.
Once the pot of water is boiling, add plenty of salt. (The water should taste like the sea.) Add the fettuccine and cook for 3 or 4 minutes, until the pasta is just al dente. Transfer the pasta to the saute pan or skillet and turn the noodles to coat them well.
Divide the fettuccine among individual wide, shallow bowls. Lay strips of prosciutto on top of each portion. Garnish with chopped chives and serve immediately.
NOTES: Toast the nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat for several minutes, stirring often, until lightly browned and fragrant.
To gauge the amount of cream in the skillet, first pour 1 3/4 cups of water into the skillet and mark the depth using a wooden chopstick or similar tool. Pour out the water and proceed with the recipe. Use the marked chopstick to tell when you've reduced the cream to the correct amount.
From The Process columnist David Hagedorn.
Tested by David Hagedorn.
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