Saturday, September 3, 2011

Chicken Newton?

There is a bit of a nip in the air in the evenings and that's starting to make me think of cooler weather dishes (even though its' still August, the days are still hot, and it's not even Labor Day yet).  Lately I've had a craving for big cuts or roasted meats flavored with sweet fruits.  I think of apple-stuffed pork loins or my favorite branded fruit sauces poured over just about anything.

In this household though, most of the time, those roasts are just going to be chicken breasts.  I can still stuff them with fruits, can't I? 

My brain really took a strange detour because I started thinking of dried fruits.  I don't know why.  I tend to prefer just about any fruit fresh to their dried versions (except for apricots).  Dried fruits are almost always too sickly-sweet for me.  Despite all of that, I found myself thinking of dried figs.

I came quite late to the fig party.  My experience with figs either came encased in a cookie or else seeing how much my grandmother enjoyed dried figs.  They never thrilled me.  I wasn't crazy about the taste or texture.  Three years ago I tried fresh figs for the first time and discovered how much I loved them.  Like grapes and plums, their edibility increased manifold when they were fresh. 

I can't explain to you why I decided it would be fun to stuff a chicken breast with dried figs.  I just couldn't get the idea out of my mind.  I specifically wanted to soak the dried figs in booze and mix them with pine nuts.  I was just compelled to make that a recipe.

I originally wanted to soak my figs in marsala, but learned at the last minute that I had none.  I decided to try bourbon instead.  I love cooking with bourbon even if I don't like drinking it.  I soaked my figs for about 30 minutes and ground them up in the food processor.

I mixed them with toasted pine nuts.  Then I flattened out some chicken breasts.  I laid two slices of prosciutto down (on my portion anyway), spread the fig-nut mixture on them, rolled them up, and stuck them in the oven. 

Halfway through the cooking, I poured the soaking liquid mixed with a little chicken broth over them.

I served them over a bed of zucchini and yellow squash cooked on the indoor grill and tossed in a dressing of orange juice, orange zest, garlic and scallions. 

The pan juices were AWESOME.  The chicken was a little dried out.  I will cook it less the next time.  I'm afraid the filling tasted a little flat.  I think it needed something else besides figs, nuts, booze, and salty pork product.  I find that unusual since I'm the one who preaches about simple flavors!  Maybe all it needed was a pinch of salt or two.  I'm not sure.

I call it chicken newton for obvious reasons.  I can't get the cookie connection out of my head.

Chicken Newton

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, tenders removed, pounded thin
15 dried figs
1/2 cup bourbon
6-12 slices prosciutto
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup chicken broth
Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Soak figs in bourbon about 30 minutes.  Reserve soaking liquid and grind the figs in a food processor.  Stir the pine nuts into the ground fig mixture.

Lay out the chicken pieces.  Place 1-2 slices of prosciutto over the top.  Spread about 2 Tbl of the fig/nut mixture onto the chicken.  Roll up and place in pan.

Sprinkle chicken rolls with salt and pepper and place in the oven.  Cook 15 minutes.  Mix together the bourbon and the chicken stock and pour into the pan.  Cook an additional 15 minutes.


Emily said...

Mmm chicken newton. I think it sounds delicious. I've been thinking an awful lot about figs lately too. I bet this would be good if you stuffed some cheese in there too. Brie, blue, goat... the options are endless.

Sue said...

I'm dumb. I kept thinking "Isaac" and not "fig", because I thought you were such a genius to think of this.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Emily - I was thinking cheese could work. That might just be what perks up the flavor as long as I leave it out of the hubby's portions. Goat cheese was my first thought, but I like your brie suggestion too. Blue of course would be out of the question. ;-)

Sue - Aww...thanks. You're too sweet!

The Blonde Duck said...

That sounds so good!