Chicken Stuffed with FigsPosted: 20 October 2011
Seemingly ‘fancy’ dinners do not have to take a long time to make. Sometimes they do, if you’re roasting whole birds or smoking a brisket or something of that nature. But truly, they don’t all have to take hours and hours.
The more recipes I create the more and more I recognize how the best recipes are seasonal and use produce that’s in abundance at that time. Food tastes better when it’s in season. This is easy enough to understand. But it goes further. It goes on to meals, side dishes, and whole recipe schemes. They are all better when you base them off food that is ripe for the picking. Although it’s always sad to say goodbye to delicious berries, peaches and plums, those fruits are officially over for the year. I tried both strawberries and nectarines last week. It was a wasted effort. Food that tasted amazing a few months ago is now mediocre at best.
Figs are one of those fruits that only last for so long. Just like berries and other tender-bodied fruits, they are easily bruised and much too easily turn to mush when their season is over. I keep seeing pictures of turkeys roasted and presented with figs. That’s great for magazines since they are doing the cooking and photographing for their Thanksgiving issues in August when figs are in season. Less helpful for the rest of us. The magazine I’m working on now won’t come out until December. The writers are working on stories for January. A Thanksgiving issue would come out in October to give plenty of face time. The holiday cookie guides are already out. It’s difficult to find seasonal ingredients for Christmas cookies when you’re putting the guide together in the summer. Unless of course, you do everything a year in advance.
Anyway! Figs. Use them now while you still can and don’t cling to the hope that they’ll still be around in a month. They won’t be. I’m sad just thinking about it.
2 boneless chicken breasts
6 ripe black figs
2 ounces cream cheese, cold
2 slices bacon
Slice the figs into quarters and set aside. Measure out the cream cheese and shape each ounce into a flattened bar shape. You may pop them in the freezer so they harden. This helps keep the cheese from oozing too much.
Place one chicken breast on a plastic cutting board. Cover lightly with a paper towel. You may use boneless skinless breasts, or breasts that have been cut off the bone.
Use the flat side of a meat tenderizer to flatten the chicken. You want to a large, thin breast. This will give you more area to stuff and will let you roll the figs and cream cheese more easily.
Place the cream cheese and figs in the center of the breast. Lay the cream cheese width-wise across the breast. Line the figs up two by two. Season with salt, pepper and garlic.
Starting with the narrow tip of the breast, (bottom) roll the breast tightly towards the rounded top, keeping the figs and cream cheese tucked in tightly. You are rolling the breast up from bottom to top, not from side to side.
Once rolled, keep the chicken in place with one hand. With the other, grab a piece of bacon. Start the bacon on the top of the breast and wind it around at least twice. As you wrap the bacon around spread it out so it covers more of the breast. This will help keep everything in place.
Secure the bacon and close the chicken breast with a toothpick. If your breast is not cooperating, use three toothpicks to truss the meat closed on the underside. Simply remove these after cooking.
Heat oil or butter in a skillet. Place the chicken in the pan and cover. Turn the chicken a quarter turn every five minutes. Use a thermometer to check the chicken. The filling and chicken at the thickest point should reach 180º. Be sure to rotate the bird evenly so the bacon becomes crispy all around.
Once the chicken is done, remove from the pan and cover with foil for 10 minutes.
For a second side dish, toss one cup of cooked chickpeas with two chopped tomatoes into the pan that you used to cook the chicken. Heat over medium, seasoning with salt, pepper, garlic and smoked paprika. Add sour cream, cream cheese or milk to the mixture to give it a slightly creamy sauce. Just a few tablespoons will do. Toss together until the entire mixture is coated in sauce and the tomatoes are soft.