Once upon a time in ancient Rome lived a man called Apicius, a lover of luxury and exquisite food. He praised the delicacy of flamingos´ tongues, traveled to Africa in search for the biggest shrimps (which he didn´t find), and later took his own life for fear of poverty, having squandered most of his fortune.
A gourmet par excellence, Apicius seeked perfection with all his delights, feeding his pigs with figs, symbol of fertility and indulgence, in an attempt to refine the taste of their livers. He then killed them with an overdose of honeyed wine – now that´s good material for a culinary legend.
Perhaps it has to do with this ancient liaison that pork, figs, grapes & wine go so well together.
pork filet mignon with figs, grapes and port gravy (serves 4):
800-900 g pork filet, cut into 2.5 cm/1 inch slices
2 shallots, chopped finely
5 slices Bayonne ham, sliced
8 figs, quartered
small bunch of grapes, halved/deseeded (about 25)
80 ml port
a few sprigs of thyme
1 tbsp butter
salt and pepper
Trim excess fat off the meat. Cut into 2.5 cm/1 inch slices.
Heat a few tbsp olive oil in a large frying (cast iron) pan. Over high heat, cook meat 1-1.5 minutes from each side, season with salt and set aside on a plate.
In the same pan, add chopped shallots, fry for 2 minutes, add sliced ham, fry for another 2 minutes or so, until shallots are softened and fat from ham is rendered. Add halved grapes and quartered figs, tossing gently for 1 minute. Add port, stirring for another minute or so, until glossy.
Return meat with all juices to the pan for another 1-2 minutes , now over medium to low heat. Stir in the butter. Add a little water (1-2 tbsp) should gravy thicken too much. Adjust seasoning, sprinkle with thyme, and serve immediately.