Pancetta is cured Italian bacon; unlike American bacon, it isn’t smoked. You’ll find it at specialty stores, Italian markets, and some supermarkets. Don’t use American bacon: It takes too long to crisp on the grill.
In a small bowl, combine the goat cheese, breadcrumbs, mint, and parsley; season with salt and pepper. Cut the figs nearly in half lengthwise, keeping them attached at the broad end. Hollow the center slightly with your thumb. Stuff each fig with about 1 tsp. of the goat cheese mixture and squeeze very gently to close.
Hollow a split fig with your thumb and then add a teaspoonful of filling.
Wrap a slice of pancetta around each fig, overlapping with each revolution. Don’t wrap the pancetta too tightly or you’ll force the filling out or cause the figs to split. Cover the figs with plastic wrap and refrigerate (up to 1 day ahead) until ready to grill.
Wrap up the figs, but not too tightly. Be sure the pancetta is very thinly sliced so it stays on the fig and cooks before the fruit and filling become too mushy.
Grill the figs over a moderately hot fire to crisp the pancetta and to warm the figs and cheese, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the figs to a serving dish. Combine the honey and thyme, if using, and drizzle over the figs. Serve with good, crusty bread.
nutrition information (per serving):
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Photo: Judi Rutz