Oh, look – another fig recipe.
Sorry, I can’t help it – we’ve stopped eating them so often as snacks, and I have a ton in my refrigerator; I’ve got to do something with the darn things. But that’s okay, because I’ve decided I absolutely love cooking with them.
You know that question about what you’d eat for your last meal? I always have trouble with it, because 1) I really don’t want to think about my last meal, thank you very much and B) I like so many things. Would I eat pad kee mow and sticky rice with mangoes, along with as many lychee martinis as I could drink? Would it be chicken and dumplings, apple pie and sweet tea? Would it be prime rib and a mellow merlot, followed by chocolate souffle and homemade French vanilla ice cream? Mole enchiladas, southwestern style spoon bread and handmade sopapillas with cinnamon sugar and dulce de leche sauce? Choices, choices…and keep in mind that since I’m going to die after eating it, I’m not being too terribly picky about my ingredients – load me up with wheat and sugar; I’ll be dead soon, anyway.
All I can say is while I might not be able to make up my mind about this mythical final meal, this dish would make the short list – that is how good it was. And I wouldn’t even have to worry about going off my diet. For what it’s worth, Beloved agreed with me; he kept saying over and over, “This may be the best thing I’ve ever eaten!” (Of course, he tends to say that about a lot of the things I cook, but we’ll just ignore that for the time being.)
Note: This is not exactly the kind of recipe you can just throw together, but that doesn’t mean it’s difficult. Don’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients or directions; it will come together much more easily than you might imagine. Also, the servings aren’t huge, but between the prosciutto, goat cheese and fig stuffing, it is really rich and filling – the servings don’t need to be large.
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 6 to 8 ounces each
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 small shallots, finely chopped
- 5 to 6 large dried Turkish figs, finely diced
- 2 ounces roasted, salted pistachios, shelled and chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- few grinds black pepper
- 1/2 cup tawny port
- 1 ounce prosciutto, very thinly sliced
- 4 ounces chevre or other soft goat cheese, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup tawny port
- 1 tablespoon ghee or clarified butter
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Heat the olive oil in a medium-size skillet or sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the figs, pistachios, salt and pepper; continue cooking for another 5 minutes, or until the figs and shallots begin to caramelize slightly. Stir in the port and increase the heat slightly, continuing to stir until the port has reduced and the mixture is very syrupy. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
- While the fig stuffing is cooling, butterfly the chicken breasts – lay a chicken breast on a cutting board in front of you, smooth side down. Remove the tenderloin, if necessary; you will probably be able to simply pull it off, although you may need to cut it free at one end. Save the tenderloin for another use.
- Turn the breast over with the narrow, pointed tip facing you and the thinner side opposite your cutting hand. Place your hand on top of the breast. Carefully insert the knife into the thickest part of the breast, and draw it almost all the way through the breast. Take care to keep the breast attached on one side.
- Open the breast like a book and, if needed, use the broad side of a cook’s knife or the smooth side of a meat mallet to even out the butterflied breast, by lightly pounding the flesh until it’s an even thickness. Repeat with the second breast; season lightly with salt and pepper. Cover the surface of the each chicken breast evenly with the prosciutto.
- Combine the goat cheese and herbs de Provence in a small bowl until well-blended. Divide the mixture in half and gently spread each portion thinly over the prosciutto covering the chicken breasts. Divide the fig stuffing and mound on each breast, spreading it down the center. Fold the chicken over the stuffing and tie at intervals with kitchen twine to hold it closed. Sprinkle the surface with salt, pepper and the chopped thyme.
- Place each breast on a lightly oiled baking sheet seam side up, and bake for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked and the stuffing is heated through. Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- While the chicken is cooking, heat the pan the fig stuffing was prepared in over medium-high heat. Deglaze with the remaining 1/2 cup of port, scraping up the bits from the surface of the pan, until reduced to about 2 tablespoons. Stir in the clarified butter and set aside.
- Remove the kitchen twine and cut each chicken breast in half through the center slightly on the bias. Plate each half, drizzle with the port/butter sauce and serve.
- Nutrition (per serving): 486 calories, 26g total fat, 98.7mg cholesterol, 541.4mg sodium, 530.1mg potassium, 16.1g carbohydrates, 3.6g fiber, 6.4g sugar, 37.8g protein.