Honeyed Balsamic Braised Chicken with Figs

I thought I should explore some savory applications of fresh figs rather than just going dessertcrazy. For some reason, a Morrocan chicken I’d made several months ago kept popping up in my head, so I decided to follow a similar tact and braise a chicken with figs and see where it took me.

I began by breaking down a whole chicken. I strangely enjoy this and seem to get better at it every time I do it, so if this is something that intimidates you, there’s only one way to get better at it so do it! With the chicken in more manageable pieces, I then braised it in a flavorful broth of wine, balsamic, honey, leek, herbs, and figs. The result was absolutely delicious–the chicken was incredibly tender and the sauce was sweet, honeyed, with a surprisingly well-rounded, balanced, full flavor. I had some doubts when I started, but as the aromas wafted through the air and I had a bite, I was sold. The figs, the rosemary, the honey–lots of strong flavors, that became one in a way that complimented the chicken perfectly. Now if only I could have fresh figs year-round…

  • 1 whole chicken (~4 lbs)
  • knob of butter
  • olive oil
  • flour
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 leek
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup white wine
  • ~1/4 cup chicken stock (if necessary)
  • 20 figs (I used Kadota–use whatever variety suits your fancy)
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • fennel seeds
  • handful of thyme sprigs
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Begin by getting your fruit and veggies ready for later. Stem and half the figs, strip/dice up the herbs, finely dice the pale part of the leek, and mince the garlic.

Break the chicken down. Remove the gizzards from the chicken, sharpen your knife, and just dislocate and follow the joints. If your cuts aren’t super clean, no worries–practice makes perfect. Its up to you whether you separate the drumstick from the thighs. Try both ways if you’re not sure–there’s two legs, after all. Anyways, you should have the wings, thighs, drumsticks, breasts, and the other smaller scraps from the backside.

Warm up your pan and add a good knob of butter with a bit of olive oil. While that heats up, dredge the chicken parts in flour, season liberally with salt and pepper, and then brown the chicken parts (as in put it in and let it sit undisturbed until you flip it) for about 3-5 minutes per side. Work in batches so as not to overcrowd your pan–too much at once and you’ll just be steaming the chicken, which isn’t the goal.

Set the nicely browned and crusted chicken aside.

Now, its time to get everything else cooking. In the pan you browned the chicken in with the fat that remains, sauté the leek for about 3 minutes, after which, add the garlic for another minute. Deglaze the pan with wine, scraping off all of the brown bits, and warm this up to a boil. If things don’t look “wet enough” to you (e.g. my leek was pretty big, so I wanted a little more liquid), splash in a bit (like 1/4 cup) of chicken stock as well. Once actively boiling, return all of the chicken parts to the pan.

Cover the pan and drop the heat to just shy of medium. Leave this be for about 15 minutes.

Once time is up, come back, give things a stir and flip the chicken parts. Now, add all of the remaining ingredients– figs, balsamic, honey, fennel seeds, thyme, rosemary, and lemon. Stir this a bit to get them all in there, cover things up, drop the heat to between low and medium, and let this continue for 30 minutes. Stir periodically so that all of the sugars in there don’t just settle to the bottom and burn.

Once time is up, you’re good to go. I’m normally expecting to have to finish up a braise by reducing the braising liquid further to thicken it up, but things were a pretty nice texture at this point. So simply verify the seasoning is right (adjust as necessary), plate some chicken with a side of rice (I included some cashews, golden raisins, fennel seeds, and cardamom in the rice, garnish with a fig, and dig in. Enjoy!

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32 Responses to “Honeyed Balsamic Braised Chicken with Figs”

  1. Sam Says:

    That sounds and looks delicious!

  2. Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy Says:

    That chicken looks insanely delicious! What a terrific combination of flavors. Definitely a keeper!

  3. linda Says:

    Wonderful way of making chicken. I’ve never broken a chicken down before, mainly because a whole chicken would be too much. Sounds like fun though :)

  4. Deeba Says:

    How creative is that Mike…does sound fantastic! I have to whinge & say that I wish we had figs at least once a year…you are indeed lucky!

  5. Anonymous Says:

    I had completely forgotten that I had bookmarked this recipe a while ago. The Braised chicken, fig, leek, honey, balsamic vinegar and thyme mixture sounded great and it looks like it turns out as good as it sounds.

  6. mikky Says:

    hmmm… wonder what i should replace the figs with… great looking meal there… :)

  7. Alexa Says:

    Braised chicken with figs is my idea of a great meal. The sauce looks amazing and it must have smelled so enticing. Lovely recipe, Mike!

  8. Hélène Says:

    This meal looks so delicious. We pay $0.79 a fig so that’s why I don’t do dishes with them.

  9. Kevin Says:

    That looks so tasty! I will have to see if I can still get a hold f some fresh figs. Given the braising I would guess that dried figs would work as well. Bookmarked

  10. pam Says:

    I am so jealous of you, with all those figs! I also strangely love breaking down a chicken. I also like boning a chicken breast.

  11. Meeta Says:

    sensational. i love the thick gravy and the lovely fig/hiney flavoring. as always a mouthwatering combination mike!

  12. grace Says:

    so you enjoy dismantling chickens. i’m not sure how i feel about that. i am sure, however, that your dish would be delicious. i like a little sweetness on my meat. :)

  13. noble pig Says:

    Beutiful presentation. I never thought of putting figs with my Morrocaan chicken, great idea.

  14. Ivy Says:

    I’ve never had figs in a savory dish before. I wonder if I can still find some figs at the farmers’ market. It sounds great.

  15. Heather Says:

    yum! i love the addition of figs. i got totally addicted to chicken moroccan chicken when iwas in (duh, morocco) last year. it is so good! this looks like a great spin on it!!!

  16. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) Says:

    That combination of meat and dried fruit is very typical of Moroccan and North African cuisine. I’d make this in one of my many tagine pots — it would be a delicious centerpiece to a theme dinner.

  17. Ning Says:

    Very creative combination of ingredients and flavors. :) We usually do not have fresh figs here, but I have seen dried figs being sold. Now, I have to buy that and try this dish!

  18. the caked crusader Says:

    Isn’t balsamic vinegar just one of the loveliest ingredients ever? Love the sticky looking glaze on the chicken. Yum.

  19. Bren Says:

    this looks so darn good Mike, my goodness. And i love love figs! Nice work… will be an alternative to my famous chicken fricasse! :)

  20. Peter Says:

    Mike, fab looking fig and chicken dish and this dish would be great with dried figs too…think of the flavour possiblities poaching the figs with flavours of your choice!

  21. shayne Says:

    I think that chicken dishes are always better when you start with a while chicken and cut it yourself. I have to say I was skeptical when I saw the title of this dish but after reading to post I think (and you stated it) this would be really good. This one I will have to add to the must try list.

  22. Toni Says:

    Anything cooked with balsamic and figs is an “OH YESSS!” for me. In fact, they make a fig balsamic which I just might try…

  23. Dragon Says:

    I can almost smell this warm dish. It looks amazing!

  24. zenchef Says:

    Nice recipe. It looks really delicious. I tried braising a chicken once in port, figs and cardamon and it came out really good too. I love figs and it’s a great idea to cook with them at the end of the season.

  25. kittie Says:

    A lovely savoury use of figs – I wish you had them year round too!!

  26. [eatingclub] vancouver || js Says:

    Fabulous braised chicken dish: yummy! I don’t have fresh figs but I’ll try this with dried. Thanks!

  27. Maggie Says:

    I love braised chicken in the fall. This combination sounds fantastic!

  28. wkf Says:

    Hey- just found your site. I have friends who put fresh figs in the freezer whole. I haven’t tried it, yet. My fig tree is a tweeny tree. Just enough to tease. Next year….. But if you have an abundance, I’d try it. I am off to thaw chicken parts. And find figs

  29. Marie Says:

    Mike, that chicken really looks incredible!!

  30. GG Says:

    This was fantastic! I modified the recipe slightly and it was a winner at my home, thanks for a great meal.

  31. Fresh Figs, An Obsession « Karolinka In & Around Bulgaria Says:

    […] To top it all off, there’s this incredible recipe for Honeyed Balsamic Braised Chicken with Figs. […]

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