Anyway, this recipe is so ridiculously delicious, so insanely flavorful that it somehow achieves the impossible: it pleases everyone at my table. My son gobbles it down (though we do have to pick out the figs) and my better half just about licks his bowl clean. I serve it over a nest of tagliatelle or fettuccine making it a warm and comforting winter dinner, though it could easily be served solo, alongside a green salad and crispy bread to soak up the juices. It’s absolutely worthy of a place at your holiday dinner table even though it’s rustic enough for a weeknight meal.
Typically I view garnishes – crumbled nuts, a flurry of fresh herbs – as optional and often expensive accessories. But in this case, I highly recommend using all of the ingredients below. It’s just too good to mess with. Added bonus: this recipe saves and freezes really well, so I already have a cache of this in my freezer for when baby #2 arrives and I go back to subsisting on rolls of deli meat and string cheese.
Shredded Braised Chicken & Figs with Marcona Almonds & Thyme
Adapted from Food & Wine
2 teaspoons canola oil – stock
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (you can also use skin-on/bone-in, just discard bones & skin after cooking/before shredding) – $5.00
Salt & pepper – stock
1 large carrot, chopped – $0.80
1 large onion, chopped – $0.99
2 celery ribs, chopped – $1.99
½ of a small tomato, chopped
2 Tablespoons Marsala wine – stock
1 quart low-sodium chicken broth (or stock, I’ve used both) – stock
2 garlic cloves, minced – stock
1 Tablespoon whole black peppercorns – stock
½ cup dried figs, stemmed and chopped – $3.99
1 pound tagliatelle or fettuccine, cooked according to package directions – $1.49
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, remove stems and separate the “leaves” – $1.99
Freshly grated parmesan – stock
1/3 cup of salted Marcona (aka Spanish) almonds (I buy Rosemary-Garlic Marcona Almonds, when I can find them at Trader Joes/Whole Foods, regular roasted salted almonds or macadamias would also work) – $5.29
Grand total assuming well-stocked kitchen: $21.54
Cost per serving: $3.59
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large cast-iron French Oven or large lidded oven-safe pot, heat the oil over med-high heat and brown the chicken on all sides. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
3. In the same pot, add the carrot, onion & celery and cook over medium heat until golden, about 15 minutes. Stir in the tomato and cook until juices are rendered and it starts to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Add the Marsala wine and cook until evaporated, stirring frequently. Add the broth/stock, garlic and peppercorns.
4. Return the chicken to the pot and simmer through. Cover the chicken with a lid and place in oven for 1 hour, or until chicken is very tender.
5. Transfer the chicken to a clean platter and shred using two forks. Set aside.
6. Place a large strainer over a large bowl and strain the cooking liquid, pressing down on the veggies/solids.
7. Return the liquid to the French Oven or pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat a bit and simmer until sauce reduces by about a third (give it 10 minutes or so, stirring frequently).
8. Add the shredded chicken and figs to the sauce and warm through.
9. Serve chicken and figs over cooked pasta topped with chopped almonds, parmesan and a sprinkling of fresh thyme.