Cheap And Elegant: Balsamic-Fig Chicken
Okay, so the real name for this dish at my house is "Figgy Chicken," but that doesn't sound too good. And the dish is good! It's sweet yet savory, and a little thyme in the sauce adds interesting nuance to the dish. The balsamic vinegar echoes the sweetness of the figs while providing a little acidity. The recipe also is easy to make with inexpensive chicken breasts and is a change from the usual "drop the chicken on the grill" routine. I ordinarily serve "Figgy Chicken" "as is," but, if you'd like to dress it up before serving the dish, sprinkle on some crumbled blue cheese and/or a few toasted, chopped pistachio nuts. The chicken is great served with rice or noodles.
Balsamic-Fig Chicken (Figgy Chicken) -- Serves 4
16-20 ounces of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup of flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt, divided
2 tablespoons of canola oil
1/2 cup of chopped onion
1 tablespoon of chopped garlic
1 1/2 cups of chicken broth (or reconstituted chicken "Better Than Bullion")
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon of dried thyme or a small handful of fresh thyme springs
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
6 ounces of dried figs, cut in half, stems removed
Blue cheese crumbles and toasted, chopped pistachio nuts (optional but tasty)
If the chicken breasts are large, cut them in half, crosswise, then cut the halves into cutlets/slices about 3/4 - 1-inch thick. Put the sliced chicken into a plastic bag and add the flour and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Seal and shake the bag to coat the chicken with the flour. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering in a large chef's pan or skillet with deep sides and then add the floured chicken. Brown it on one side for about five minutes, then flip it over and brown it on the other side for another five minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate and add the onion to the pan, adding a bit more oil, if necessary. Saute the onion for about five minutes until it softens, then add the garlic and saute it for a minute or so. Add the chicken broth to the pan and turn down the heat to medium-low. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and add the thyme, pepper, remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and dried figs to the pan. Stir to loosen the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Partially cover the pan and let the mixture simmer until reduced by about one-third and the figs have softened. Add the chicken back to the pan, spooning the sauce over it. Continue to simmer the dish, uncovered, for a few minutes or until the chicken is cooked through (it should read 165 degrees on an instant-read meat thermometer). Remove the thyme sprigs (if you used them) before serving the chicken, sprinkled with blue cheese and pistachio nuts, if you like.