Fig & Goat Cheese Wontons
The easiest, chicest, most delicious hors d'oeuvre there is!
These fig and goat cheese wontons are the simplest things in the world you could ever make, and yet they are so sophisticated and decadent. Dried figs are ideal because they are denser and dryer than fresh figs, which translates to a pocket of flavor that will neither wet the wonton skins nor leach into the oil. Speaking of wonton skins, they are a huge boon to the ease of this recipe since they are store-bought. If you wish to make this dish without any alcohol, just swap the port for some pomegranate juice and add a splash of balsamic vinegar. It's all about technique, not torture!
Equipment: cutting board; chef's knife; dry and wet measuring cups; measuring spoons; small saucepan; heatproof rubber spatula; food processor (mini or regular); small mixing bowl; pastry brush (optional); deep fryer or Dutch oven/cast iron skillet and thermometer; tongs or slotted spoon/spider; rimmed sheet pan lined with paper towels
1 cup dried figs
½ cup port wine
1 tablespoon honey
3 large sprigs of thyme
40 wonton skins
4 ounces soft, mild goat cheese
vegetable oil for frying
1. Trim the dried figs by removing and discarding their tough stems first, then quarter them. Set aside. Remove the thyme leaves from the sprigs and set aside (discard the stems).
ILOC tip: if you won't drink it, don't cook with it. After all, a dish is only as good as what goes into it. That being said, there is no need to break out the $100 bottle of port to make these wontons!"
2. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, bring figs, port, honey, and thyme leaves to a simmer and cook until most of wine is reduced, about 5-10 minutes. Pour mixture into a food processor and pulse until mostly smooth. Set aside or transfer to a small bowl.
"It's better for the fig mixture to be moist than dry, but the port should reduce enough so that when the figs are pulsed in the food processor, the consistency is jammy and thick."
3. Partially fill a small bowl with cold water and set aside.
4. Place 4 wonton skins on a clean work surface. Fill center of each with 1/2 teaspoon fig mixture and 1/2 teaspoon goat cheese. Brush two of the edges with water using your fingers or a pastry brush, fold over one half to form a triangle, and press down around filled area of wonton to remove any air. Repeat with remaining wonton skins and fillings.
5. In a deep fryer/Dutch oven/cast iron skillet, heat oil to 375°F. Add the wontons, 5-6 at a time, without crowding the pan, and fry until golden brown on each side, about 1-2 minutes.
6. Remove the wontons from the oil and drain on paper towels.
ILOC tip: if you want to keep the wontons warm while you fry them in batches, preheat the oven to 150-200°F and place them on a sheet pan in a single layer after they have drained on paper towels for a few minutes.