Chicken with figs and honey
Sunday 31 August 2008
Honey in savoury dishes can be delicious, but it must be counterbalanced with a certain amount of acidity to redress the balance, hence the wine vinegar here.
1 organic free-range chicken, about 1.6kg/3lb, jointed into 6-8 pieces
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2tbsp mild-tasting olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and sliced
A few sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
125ml/4fl oz white wine or verjuice
150ml/5fl oz good-quality chicken stock
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp mild-tasting honey, such as acacia
10 ripe figs
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Trim off the excess fat from the chicken, then season generously with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, then brown the chicken pieces in batches, skin-side down, for about eight minutes, turning to colour them evenly all over. Remove the chicken to a flameproof casserole dish with a slotted spoon. Pour off most of the fat from the frying pan, then add the onion and cook over a low heat for five minutes to soften.
Add the onion to the casserole dish with the thyme and bay leaf. Pour over the wine and chicken stock. Place the casserole, uncovered, on the middle shelf of the oven and cook for about 30 minutes until the meat is tender but not quite falling from the bone. The skin should now be golden and the liquid reduced by about half.
Place the casserole over a low heat on the hob. Mix the wine vinegar and honey and pour in. Tear each fig into four and add to the casserole. Bring to a boil; allow to bubble until the liquor has reduced to a syrupy consistency – it should be glossy and taste both sweet and sour. Serve on warm plates, with a salad and some bread.
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