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Menu Starring Chicken and Featuring Figs

6 November 2007

Pilfered Roast Chicken
corn-fed free range chicken, spice crust, caramelized cauliflower

Roasted Figs with Honeyed Walnuts
vanilla ice cream

Pilfered Roast Chicken
I lifted this from Adam’s blog, Alice Waters’ recipe. I’ve modified it slightly, but it’s still very simple and usually comes out perfect;y. Mark Bittman’s usually does too, but involves changing the heat around and all sorts. I always take the skin off, so all that extra work for crisp skin isn’t really necessary. Also, without the skin, you can cook the cauliflower in the chicken pan juices and it’s not too greasy. I’ve doubled the spices from Alice Waters, but not the salt, since I thought the rub was a little too salty as written.

  • 1 chicken, smallish (skinned, if you like)
  • 2 t fennel seeds
  • 1/2 t red pepper flakes
  • 2 t kosher salt
  • 1 t fresh ground pepper
  • 2 onions, cut in half
  • 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 2 heads of cauliflower, broken into florets

Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C. Pat the chicken dry, inside and out. Grind the spices together using a mortar and pestle. Spray spices with a little cooking spray to keep them from flying around, if necessary. Rub the spice mix into the chicken. Squeeze the lemon into the cavity and rub in, then put in the lemon halves, onion and garlic. Spray a roasting pan with cooking spray and scatter the cauliflower in it (the pan should be just large enough to hold the cauliflower in a single layer). Lay the chicken upside down on top of the cauliflower. Roast 30 minutes, and then turn the chicken over. Roast an additional 20 – 30 minutes, until juices run clear.

Roasted Figs with Honeyed Walnuts
For a “healthy” dessert, this was really incredibly good. Even TB, initially unconvinced by the figs, was impressed. Another recipe courtesy of Irresistible! magazine. I’m beginning to respect! The recipe originally called for unbroken pecan halves. I suppose that this makes a nicer presentation, but 25g of nuts just doesn’t look like enough to me, so I broke them up. I also am unfamiliar with balsamic syrup, so I substituted a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and some extra sugar. If anyone knows what balsamic syrup is, please let me know.

Serves 2:

  • 4 figs
  • 2 T honey
  • 25 g (1 oz) pecan or walnut halves, broken into large chunks
  • 2 T balsamic syrup or substitute 1 T balsamic vinegar plus 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 T warm water
  • vanilla ice cream

Cut the stems of the figs and then use a sharp knife to cut crosses about 2/3rds of the way down the fig. Squeeze the bottoms slightly to open the fig and place in a small glass baking dish coated with cooking spray. Roast at 400°F/200°C for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the honey and the nuts in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Boil and stir about 3 minutes, stirring constantly until the honey darkens and you can smell the sugar caramelizing. Carefully add the vinegar, water and sugar: it will spatter. Allow to cool slightly. Serve 2 figs per person with a scoop or two of ice cream with the nuts and sauce drizzled over.

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