Monday, July 23, 2012

How to Make Fresh Fig BBQ Sauce

Grilled chicken with homemade fig BBQ sauce
Fresh figs were in abundance last week at our local market, so I decided to try to make a barbecue sauce using figs. A couple of years ago, at Carolina Sauce Company we used to sell a rich and robust all-natural fig BBQ sauce from Israel, which, sadly, is no longer on the market, so I had an idea of the flavor I wanted to achieve. The following recipe is what I came up with. It is indeed rich and robust, almost voluptuous, with an earthy, subtly sweet flavor that whispers of figs without screaming "FIGS" or otherwise distracting you from your meal. The texture is thick and substantial, meaning that you can use it at the table as a dipping sauce in addition to slathering it during the final few minutes of grilling as a finishing sauce. If you prefer a sweeter flavor, I suggest substituting Grade B or Dark Grade A maple syrup or honey for the blackstrap molasses. And if you want a spicier sauce--this one was about a medium when freshly made, and toned down to a mild heat when cooked on food--you can substitute one habanero or scotch bonnet pepper for the two jalapenos, or use one jalapeno and one hotter pepper such as serrano or Thai chile.

I used this fig BBQ sauce to marinate and grill chicken, and the chicken turned out juicy and tender with a nice slightly-caramelized coating.  The sauce's deep, complex flavor should also complement ribs, pork chops, venison and other game, and probably also portobello mushrooms and veggie burgers.

My recipe makes about 3 cups of sauce, which is enough to marinate and cook 2 1/2 lbs of chicken and have some sauce left over for dipping or for future use.  Any unused sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, and the flavor of my leftover unused sauce developed and mellowed nicely overnight.

If you decide to make my fig BBQ sauce, please leave a comment to let me know what you think and how you used it.

Flickr photo by Gudlyf
2 Tbs Olive Oil (preferably not extra virgin)
2 large shallots, diced (approx. 3/4 cup)
1 red bell pepper, seeded & diced (approx. 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 cup red wine (I used merlot)
3 Tbs unsulfured blackstrap molasses
2 Tbs low-sodium Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup no-salt-added tomato sauce
8 fresh figs, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 large jalapeno peppers, seeded & diced (approx. 1/3 cup)

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the shallots until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the bell pepper, garlic, salt, black pepper, cinnamon and cloves; cook while stirring for 2 or 3 minutes until fully combined and the pepper softens. Stir in the wine, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, orange juice and tomato sauce; bring to a gentle simmer while stirring. Simmer for 1 minute and remove from heat. Allow to cool for a few minutes while you place the figs and jalapenos in a blender or food processor. Pour in the sauce and process until smooth.  Makes approximately 3 cups of sauce.

To use with chicken or any type of meat, place the chicken or meat in a resealable plastic bag or lidded non-metal container, pour in enough sauce to completely coat, seal or cover and shake to combine. Marinate for at least 1 hour in refrigerator. Store unused sauce in a tightly sealed container (preferably a glass jar) in refrigerator for up to a week.

Zestfully yours,


  1. Aunt Berta's Fig Barbecue Sauce - From Israel!

    1. Those sauces sound delicious, and a couple are similar to the ones we used to sell from Israel. Unfortunately I couldn't find any info regarding US distribution, or even online sales. Do you know if there's a US distributor for Aunt Berta's products?

      Zestfully yours,