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An uncommon duo: the fig and the pig

Posted: Friday, Aug. 03, 2012

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Chef Troy Gagliardo

Chef Troy Gagliardo is a self-taught chef that has parlayed his years of kitchen experience into many other culinary ventures. Including designing and developing his all-grilled restaurant concepts, a proprietary spice line, cook books, commercials, food styling, cooking/restaurant columns, endorsements, cooking classes, and live appearances. Troy has been voted as one of the Charlotte’s Top Five Chefs two years in a row by Creative Loafing readers and competed in the Iron Fork competition both years. Chef Troy has appeared in two national commercials with NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. and joined him for a media tour day just days before Dale Jr. won his second Daytona 500 to start the 2014 NASCAR season.For the past seven years, Chef Troy has appeared each week on Charlotte's morning show WCCB News Rising, cooking his way through "Troy’s Everyday Eats". Filmed live each week at the WCCB Charlotte studios, Chef Troy teaches his unique style of food with a simple approach directed toward the home-cook/viewer.His feature on Rising began in August of 2007, and since has become the most anticipated part of the show. During that time Troy has prepare over one thousand of his creative original recipes live on-air and has made several cooking appearances on the night time show, WCCB News Edge. Chef Troy teamed up with The Fresh Market as a sponsor for “Troy’s Everyday Eats" in April of 2011. Troy shops each week at The Fresh Market for the ingredients used on the show, he says, "The Fresh Market sponsorship is something I have pursued for a long time. I love shopping at their markets because everything is always so fresh. They have a large variety of organic and sustainable food options. As a consumer and chef, I couldn't ask for anything more". Warren publishing recently signed Chef Troy to publish his new cookbook entitled Pseudo Southern-a playful twist on the art of southern cooking, which has been endorsed by Top Chef Alum and best-selling author Fabio Viviani and also star of “A Chef’s Life” Vivian Howard. Fabio said of Pseudo Southern, "Southern food is my second home. It's as close to my heart like Italy is, and that is why I love Troy's recipes so much. They remind me of the childhood I would have had if I was born in the south”. Vivian had this to say, “Troy’s take on southern food is just left of center, fun, and refreshing. His recipes are approachable that even the most jaded cook will be intrigued to try.” Chef Troy is also a free-lance food writer for the Charlotte Observer and Examiner.com and lives in Mooresville, NC with his wife Tracy, of twenty-three years, and their two daughters, Ally and Isabella. He can be seen every Tuesday morning from 7-9 am on WCCB News Rising.

Figs are in season and here in North Carolina, they grow in abundance. If you are lucky, you will find a wild fig tree that no one else knows about. Then you can have them all to yourself.

Harvesting figs isn’t tricky, but timing is everything.

Checking them at least once a day during the busy season is a must. Depending on the variety, the color may vary slightly. When the fig turns a darker version of itself and the flesh has a little give, almost soft, it is time to pick them. Figs will not continue to ripen after being picked so make sure to pick them at the texture that you like to eat them. Figs have a taste like no other. The fruit is only slightly sweet and the texture is that of a strawberry with softer seeds inside. The more ripe the fig, the sweeter they are.

You don’t have to have a fig tree to enjoy them this time of year though. Check local area farmers markets and food stores that are known for their fresh produce. In most stores, you will find two varieties: brown turkey and black mission figs. Either one will work perfectly for this recipe. Try them both and decide which you prefer.

Although they are not known as the best of friends, pig and fig are brilliant together. Bring a little salty/smoky sweetness of bacon to the fig party and it is a match made in heaven, even though it is the least likely of matches. This tart puts the pig with the fig in perfect harmony and is quick, simple and easy to put together. Store bought pie dough is rolled out and smeared with ricotta cheese that is sweetened with honey and combined with perfectly cooked bacon. Top with quartered figs, the edges are folded over, dusted with brown sugar and baked until golden for the perfect seasonal dessert.

Fig-Bacon-Honey Ricotta Tart

• 1 each, pie crust
• ½ pound bacon, thin sliced, cooked, drained, cooled
• 8 ounces whole milk ricotta
• ¼ teaspoon almond extract
• 3 tablespoons honey
• 10-12 each, mission/turkey figs, stem removed and quarter
• 1 each, egg white
• 2 tablespoons, dark brown sugar

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Lay pie crust on a floured surface and roll out to about 10”.

3. Combine bacon, ricotta, almond extract and honey.

4. Smear ricotta mixture on dough leaving 1” rim around dough uncovered.

5. Top with fig, tops facing up, fold over excess dough and brush exposed edges of dough with egg wash.

6. Dust tart with brown sugar, place in oven and bake until golden, about 35-40 minutes.

7. Remove, cool slightly, cut into wedges and serve.

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