When I read in a book about country inns that Todd Muir at Healdsburg’s Madrona Manor had programmed a dish rather like this for a fig festival the wheels of inspiration began to turn.  The result is the adjacent timbale.  Or timballo as the Italians say — I love that word, it sounds like it ought to be the name of a percussion instrument banged lightly in some old baroque suite.  The orchestration of this timbale/timballo is interesting, highlighted by the counterpoint of the mildly sweet corn and the somewhat less mildly sweet figs.  The bacon provides the basso continuo, and the goat cheese . . . but enough of metaphors, let’s eat!


In a skillet sauté a dozen or more smallish cubes of thick cut or slab bacon until they’re almost crisp, then add a good 2 cups of frozen corn. Continue cooking the bacon and corn for several minutes over moderate heat, stirring almost constantly, after which you should stir in 1/2 cup of chopped dried figs (fresh ones in summer!) which you’ve soaked in warm water for an hour or so, and blend in (a really large spoon helps here) 3 or 4 ounces of goat cheese.    Note well: you want a moist, well-aged cheese, not too sharp but really flavorful.  Best to visit a cheese shop whose staff know as much about cheese as your physician presumably knows about your insides.  Next, top all with a thin layer of bread crumbs.

Now off the fire stir an egg into the bacon/fruit/veg/cheese and spoon all into a buttered ovenproof dish — or individual ramekins.  Then top with another film of crumbs and bake at 300°, mostly covered, for 25 minutes.

NOTE:    I don’t see why this dish wouldn’t work well with cubes of leftover roast lamb instead of the bacon; and roast pork would be a natural.   In any event you’ll doubtless want a green salad as a follow-up.

FURTHER THOUGHT:    Since this timbale when served on plates rather than in ramekins looks a bit like a large pillow waiting for some sautéed Calterranean fish or fowl to be laid against it, well, that’s your cue . . .


  1. Norman says:

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