Chicken with fresh figs
This recipe marries small pieces of chicken with fresh figs, some cooked with the fricassée and the rest reserved for garnish.
Choose a free-range chicken and, if at all possible, have the butcher chop the legs into four pieces each. If using unboned breasts, have him chop those too, discarding the last joint of the wings. If you need to chop the chicken at home, arm yourself with a sturdy, sharpened butcher knife. A way to simplify is to use what the French call blancs de poulet — breasts with the bones, skin and wings removed. These can be easily chopped in four at home.
The figs should be ripe but firm. If you don’t have any homemade chicken broth on hand, simply use 2 cups of water instead of 1 cup broth and 1 cup water.
Serve the chicken with couscous, or on its own, accompanied by a salad.
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 chicken legs, cut into 4 parts each
2 chicken breasts (boned or not), cut into 4 parts each
1 medium onion, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. powdered saffron or saffron threads
1 cup (1/4 liter) homemade chicken broth
1 cup (1/4 liter) water
1/2 tsp. sea salt or table salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. honey
6 fresh figs
Heat the olive oil to sizzling in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the chicken leg pieces and sauté over medium-high heat to a golden brown on all sides. Remove to a bowl. Repeat with the chicken breast pieces. Remove to the bowl.
Now add the minced onion to the pot. Sauté briefly until wilted but not brown.
Place the chicken pieces back in the pot. Add the cumin, cinnamon and saffron. Sauté briefly, stirring — a wonderful aroma will fill the kitchen.
Add 1/2 cup of broth or water. Using a wooden spatula, scrape the bottom of the pot to incorporate any sticky bits into the sauce. Add the rest of the broth and water. Add the salt, grind in some black pepper and stir. Bring to a simmer.
Turn the heat down to medium low. Cover the pot, setting the lid slightly ajar to allow steam to escape. Cook 30 minutes.
While the chicken is cooking, rinse the figs, cut off the stem ends and slice into quarters.
When the 30 minutes have elapsed, turn off the heat under the chicken and remove the lid. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes. With a soup spoon, skim off the fat at the top of the pot and discard.
Shortly before you’re ready to serve, place the pot back over a medium flame and reheat. Add the honey and stir. Add 4 quartered figs (16 quarters). Simmer for 15 minutes.
Serve piping hot in a large bowl or in individual shallow bowls. Garnish with the remaining fig quarters. Serves 4.