Chicken with Honey, Figs & Herbs

Dried Mission figs are a staple in my cupboard. Supermarkets carry them and stores with organic selections carry the unsulphured ones. Marinating and roasting them with the chicken plumps them into a juicy condiment. The combination of the marinade and boning technique creates an oven-grilled bird with a crispy mahogany skin that cooks in half the time.

1 chicken, preferably free-range, approximately 3 lbs. (1.3 kg)
1 head roasted garlic, or 5-6 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. dried herbes de Provence
1/4 cup fruity olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic or red wine vinegar (60 ml)
1/2 cup honey (120 ml)
2 cups white wine (475 ml)
2-3 sprigs each fresh thyme and rosemary
8 oz. dried Mission figs, about 12- 16 (225 g)
1 tsp. kosher or pickling salt (5 ml)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Prepare the chicken (or ask your butcher to do it). If doing it yourself, place the bird breast side down and cut alongside the backbone to the neck with sharp shears, using the widest point of the tail as a guide to position the scissors.

Once the backbone is removed, give the top of the breast bone a gentle chop with a knife. The bone may be removed completely, but cracking it will allow the bird to be flattened. Skin side up, press down on the centre of the breast and the bird will flatten.

The chicken should marinate for several hours or overnight for best flavour. A resealable plastic bag or shallow dish is excellent for marinating and turning the chicken. Whisk together the fresh garlic, (or add the roasted garlic to the pot), herbes de Provence, olive oil, vinegar, honey and wine and add the fresh herb sprigs. Place the chicken and figs in the marinade and refrigerate, turning frequently.

To roast, preheat the oven to 400F (200C). Choose a pan the will hold the chicken snugly.
A ten inch frying pan is excellent. Place the figs and herb sprigs in the bottom of the pan.
Place the chicken on top and pour the marinade over all. Season with sprinkled salt and pepper.

Roast for 15 minutes and reduce the heat to 350F (175C). After a total of 45 minutes, check for doneness. A simple test is is to push a sharp paring knife through the thickest part of the leg and thigh. If the knife slides through like butter and is very hot to the back of the hand, the bird is done. If there is any resistance, the bird is not cooked.

Remove the bird and the figs from the pan and keep warm. Discard the herb sprigs. Degrease the sauce if necessary, using a gravy separator. Return the sauce to the pan and boil to reduce and thicken slightly.

Carve the chicken serve with the figs and sauce.

Source of recipe: The Girls Who Dish! ...Glenys Morgan