This recipe is essentially a variation of the classic Greek pan-fried cheese called Saganaki. Here, a mild, buttery, pressed sheep’s milk cheese called manouri is used. If you can’t find it, you may substitute ricotta salata.
1. Bring the wines, honey, peppercorns to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat add the fig wedges and simmer until the sauce is reduced by two-thirds. Skim the foam off the top of the sauce as it forms and discard. Add the Chios Mastiha water and continue simmering for one minute. Remove from heat.
2. Fill a shallow bowl with cold water and empty the flour into another, second, bowl. Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Dip the cheese pieces first into the cold water then into the flour and pan-fry, two at a time, flipping once, until golden on both sides. Drain on kitchen paper and continue until all the cheese is sautéed.
3. Serve the cheese pieces on individual plates or on a large platter, surrounded by the fig sauce.
Makes 4-6 first-course servings
For the sauce:
- 4 medium fresh figs, cut into 4 wedges each
- 500 ml dry red wine
- 200 ml Mavrodafni wine
- 1 Tbsp. Greek honey
- 1/3 Tbsp. Green peppercorns
- 1/2 tsp. ground Chios Mastiha or 1/3 cup commercially infused
- Chios Mastiha water
For the pan-fried cheese:
- 280 gr. (10 oz.) manouri cheese, cut into 4 half-circles*
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour for dredging, or more as needed
- 100 ml olive oil for sautéing