My worlds have been colliding lately. Take this (unbelievably delicious) recipe involving chicken, figs, and bacon. It’s by Melissa Clark, from her first cookbook.
Y’know, the one I mentioned a week ago today, in my story about Melissa’s new book. The one I wrote the catalog copy for. The one whose manuscript pages I still have tucked away.
Well, I made this recipe long before my stroll through the park with Ms. Clark—it was nearly a month ago, soon after my lovely gift of fresh figs arrived. I had no idea what to do with them, you may recall, so I asked for suggestions on Facebook. One smart reader recommended Melissa’s Figgy, Piggy Drumsticks & Thighs. As soon as I saw Melissa’s name I knew it was worth trying—I suppose I never noticed it in the book because I’d never dealt with fresh figs before.
Whoooo-baby, this is one mighty fine dish. I swapped in turkey bacon to save a few calories and skinless, boneless breasts to make it cook supah-dupah-fast; the whole thing’s done in just over 30 minutes. And I served it on top of ready-made gnocchi that I pan-fried (in not too much oil, I promise) instead of simmering. The crisp, salty dumplings really play nicely against the sweet and smoky chicken piled on top.
Boy, I’m drooling just remembering this meal. Gots to get me some more fresh figs. Or maybe try another of Melissa’s recipes…
Figgy, Piggy (Well, Turkey-y) Chicken Over Toasted Gnocchi
Adapted from In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite by Melissa Clark
8 strips turkey bacon, halved
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
11 or 12 figs, halved or quartered if large
6 thyme sprigs
1 package vacuum-packed gnocchi (whole wheat if you can find it)
2 tablespoons vermouth
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 500°F. In a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel–lined plate to drain, but don’t drain the fat from the skillet. In fact, turkey bacon is so lean that you may need to add a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the garlic to the skillet and cook for about 1 minute, until the slices are pale golden. Transfer them to the plate along with the bacon. When the bacon’s cool enough to handle, crumble it in large chunks.
- Season the chicken with the salt and pepper. Raise the heat under the skillet to medium-high until the fat begins to smoke, and cook the chicken until browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the chicken and brown the other side, about 2 minutes.
- Scatter the figs and thyme over the chicken and transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
- While the chicken is cooking, make the gnocchi: Over medium heat, put the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet large enough to hold the gnocchi in one layer. When it ripples add the gnocchi. Toss to coat in the oil, then let it cook, undisturbed, until the bottoms begin to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Give the pan a good shake, then let it cook another 3 to 5 minutes, until it’s heated through and crisp on the outside. Sprinkle with salt, and transfer to a serving platter.
- Transfer the chicken to the platter and stir the vermouth and lemon juice into the skillet, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom (be careful when touching the skillet handle; it will be hot). Place the skillet over medium heat until the juices thicken, about 3 minutes. Pour the juices over the chicken and gnocchi, garnish with bacon and garlic, and serve.
MAKE BABY FOOD: The figs are a lovely, melting consistency by the time they’re done, so they’ll work for early eaters, as will little bits of chicken breast—you can also puree some chicken and figs with a little of the sauce (there’s alcohol in the dish, but it was only 2 tablespoons to begin with so nearly all of it will have cooked off). The crisped-up gnocchi may be a problem, especially since gnocchi often tend towards the gummy.