ad hoc Inspiration: Black Mission Fig Salad

I torture myself by having the menu of Thomas Keller's brilliant ad hoc restaurant emailed to me five times a week (they are closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays) – ad hoc's menu changes daily. It is located down the road a piece from Keller's venerable The French Laundry, and it shares in the bounty of TFL's garden, across the street. Saturday's menu started with the following:

Black Mission Fig Salad
broccolini, baby red mustard, pickled red onions, toasted pine nuts, fried sunchokes, crispy prosciutto

People often ask what I like to cook at home. It's not really what, but the how that gets me going. As straightforward as the dish sounds, the description above hints at layers of technique. I have been lax in cooking lately so I took this as inspiration – and off to the market. 

^ Some woman got in front of me at the figs and picked though them as I watched… I rescued these stragglers. 

I'll cheat here and there, but the 'pickled red onions' is an example of an ingredient that is just too fun not to make yourself.

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^ Red onions added to dissolved sugar in white vinegar, with whole allspice, cloves, bay leaves, and chiles. (Then cooled and bottled). ^ Also, I prepared a balsamic reduction of 3 parts vinegar and 1 part Port.

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^ Peeled sunchokes, sliced thin on a mandoline, fried in peanut oil. Paper-thin Prosciutto di Parma fried crisp, like bacon.

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Check it out.  Toasted pine nuts are sprinkled on top along with a drizzle of the balsamic reduction and some walnut oil. This is a great dish – the flavors textures and aromas are a knock-out. Too bad I forgot to add the broccolini I bought… funny, I hate when I do that… WAIT!

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Yep – forgot the dang onions! They added another level to my remaining bites! I will whip this up again tomorrow to finish off the figs. This goes on my list. It was also a blast to make.

And, be on the lookout – the book 'ad hoc at home' is on the way!