As we mentioned in an earlier post, it’s still fig season for another few weeks. This is a delicious way to eat up those unused figs or to try making this with some dried ones if you have had a hard time finding fresh ones. Believe it or not, this dish tastes delicious with either fresh or dried figs – we’ve had it both ways. We have taken a dish/recipe by Daisy Martinez and, because of time and space, adapted it a bit. In Daisy’s recipe, she makes her version of a Sauce Espagnole, or brown sauce, before adding it to the browned chicken. In addition to adding some smoked pimenton (smoked paprika) to my own version of the brown sauce, I also decided against straining the sauce and, instead, used a potato smasher (my hand blender isn’t in my apartment right now) to create a thick, chunkier sauce. The result is a very satisfying, yet light dish. Ok, so there is some bacon and bacon grease used in the recipe, but it’s only to add depth of flavor. Other than that, this meal is relatively healthy and would work well with dried figs for a fall or winter meal.
I highly recommend trying this dish. It would make a fabulous and cheap meal to make for a big group dinner, as well. Hey, we are in a recession! Gotta get creative!
CHICKEN WITH FIGS (adapted from Daisy Martinez) – serves 4
Ingredients for Brown Sauce:
- 6 slices of bacon, cut into 1 inch slices
- 2 stalks of celery, cut into 1 to 2 inch pieces
- 2 carrots, cut into 1 to 2 inch pieces
- 1 onion, cut into 1 to 2 inch pieces
- 4 cloves of garlic, smashed and cut in half
- 2 sprigs of thyme, leaves off the stem
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 1/2 teaspoon smoked pimenton
- 1/3 cup calvados (or other type of brandy/cognac)
- 5 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 cloves
- 6 to 8 fresh figs or dried figs (rehydrated for 20 minutes in hot water), sliced in half
- 8 pieces of chicken (we used 4 drumsticks and 4 thighs – skin on)
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
What to do:
- Make the brown sauce by first browning the bacon, allowing it’s fat to render. When it is browned, remove with slotted spoon and drain most of the rendered bacon fat, leaving only about 3 tablespoons.
- Add the celery, carrots, onion, garlic and thyme and brown them in the bacon fat on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle the flour on the veggies and stir until it is all incorporated. Now add the pimenton and stir to incorporate well. Make a well in the veggies and add your tomato paste. Allow to cook for a few seconds then stir into the veggies. Cook for another minute.
- Turn down the heat and add your calvados and/or brandy. Allow to burn down until it is evaporated.
- Once it has evaporated, add your stock, cloves and bay leaves and bring to a boil. After it comes to a boil, adjust heat so that it cooks at a gentel boil. Stir occasionally.
- As the Sauce Espagnole cooks, brown your chicken on medium-high in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add some oil to the pan before you begin and cook, turning to brown both sides – about 10 to 12 minutes.
- Once browned, lower heat and remove your browned chicken for a moment. Turn heat up to medium-low and ladle in some of the cooking Sauce Espagnole (it’s not done yet, remember!) and pick up the browned chicken bits from the bottom of your pan. Once it is all incorporated and there are no bits left on the bottom, pour in the rest of the Sauce Espagnole into that pan. Add your chicken pieces back along with the crispy bacon and your figs. Turn heat to medium and allow to cook uncovered at a simmer for about 25 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, cover and continue cooking for an additional 25 minutes.
- Right before serving, remove figs and chicken pieces to separate pan. Take out bay leaves and discard. Using a potato smasher or hand blender, lightly crush (or quickly pulse hand blender a few times) the very soft veggies down. If you feel it needs a bit more “body”, sprinkle in a bit more flour.
- Arrange some chicken and few figs on the plate and spoon some of the sauce on top. Serve with roasted potatoes or a hunk of crusty country bread.
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