I am embracing figs in the way figs should be embraced. As part of the mother of all comfort food, the roast chicken.
What do figs do for roast chicken? Everything. Figs usher in the Fall, which for us Americans means foods that echo us back to childhood, but for us foodies, we take it up a little notch. My mother didn’t roast her chicken with figs, because in that generation, it was carrots and onions, possibly potatoes.
In the generation before that, chickens were stuffed with rice and oranges one week and bread stuffing another. There are a thousand ways to make a roast chicken, and my goal in culinary life is to find them all.
Roast chicken with figs will be the dish of our Autumn. I will probably make it four or five times, changing things along the way. I will add in more shallots, because they became a bit candied in the roasting process and more divine than I anticipated. I might even add in more figs, because a bite of chicken together with a bite of fig is a new experience that I want to have again.
Figs are sweet in a not too sweet way, and when they roast down, they caramelize, adding a new texture and flavor which pairs well with chicken, white or dark. They are good eaten with a bite of roast potato that has been roasted with a mustard, garlic, olive oil, rosemary preparation. It’s amazing together.
I might suggest a salad with a tangy vinaigrette made with honey, champagne vinegar, mustard and olive oil, to help cut through the richness of the dish.
This is what I’m talking about when I say modern comfort food. It’s full of soulful flavor and texture, and it’s healthy, nutritious and looks a bit sexy too.
Roast Chicken and Dating
Marcella Hazan says in her book, Essentials of Classical Italian Cooking, that this lemon chicken recipe is something so special that men propose upon eating it. I agree that it’s a special dish, but I’m willing to bet that Roast Chicken with Figs is as equally seductive.
After a few months of courtship, show the man you can cook. Nothing is sexier than a roast chicken and a homemade apple pie. Sure, honey, he loves you for your brains, and your looks, but if you want to seal the deal by Christmas, start cooking, but don’t let it look like diet food. Just make big fat healthy food like this roasted chicken.
This is perfect because you stay in your calorie range and he fills up. Top it off with a vanilla ice cream over some kind of pie and this man won’t know what hit him. In today’s world men can easily find the sweet stuff, if you know what I’m talking about, but a girl who can cook better than mama is quite intoxicating.
So tell me, what’s your favorite Autumn supper and do you think it’s true that the way to man’s heart is through his stomach?
- 3 pound Whole Chicken
- sea salt
- 1 pint of figs, most sliced in half, some left whole (see note).
- 6 shallots, thinly sliced
- 4 Yukon gold potatoes, quartered with skins
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 large clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- Rinse chicken, pat dry, salt and refrigerate for 1-3 days, wrapped in plastic
- On roasting day, remove from refrigerator, rinse, pat dry and resalt. Leave out at room temperature for 1 hour. If you can't do this, your cooking time will increase.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Put chicken in oven for 25 minutes.
- In the meantime, prepare potatoes.
- In large bowl crush garlic with mustard, thyme, 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary, olive oil. Add quartered potatoes and mix well.
- During last 25 minutes of roasting chicken, add in shallots and potatoes and figs around the chicken. (If you don't use potatoes, add figs in whole form 25 minutes into baking.
- Use a meat thermometer to test chicken at 50 minutes. The chicken is done when the deepest part at the thigh not touching the bones reaches 165 degrees.
- You may need to cook for 10-15 more.
- Let the chicken rest for at least ten minutes before you cut it.