This has to be one of my favorite chicken dishes ever! Chef Michael Chiarello inspired me to make this recipe. Tuscan Chicken In A Concord Grape Reduction With Sweet Figs sounds like it would be a really hard dish to make but, in fact, the opposite is true.
There are a few steps that need to be followed. I would have liked to have been able to use fresh figs like he did but they weren’t in season at the time. Instead, I used dried figs and reconstituted them.
I’m starting with the spice rub for the chicken.
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Total Cooking Time: 50 minutes
Yields: 4 servings
Equipment: 1 (12-inch) sautè pan, 1 (3-quart) saucepot, coffee/spice grinder, large deep-sided serving platter
Ingredients For The Chicken:
4 boneless chicken breasts, skin-on chicken and boneless
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, ground
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, ground
1 teaspoon of freshly ground white pepper
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
Ingredients For Reconstituting Dried Figs:
4 cups organic apple juice
1 package dried black mission figs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Ingredients For The Concord Grape Reduction With Sweet Figs:
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
2 shallots, finely diced (substitute 1/2 a red onion)
2 heaping cups of black mission figs, reconstituted, stems removed and quartered, (if available, 2 pints of fresh black mission figs, stems removed, quartered)
2 cups of fresh Concord grape juice, (6 pints of fresh concord grapes), reserving back 4 small clusters of Concord grapes for garnish
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1/2 cup of chicken stock, unsated
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
Note: If fresh Concord grapes are not available, substitute 2 cups of organic Welch’s Concord grape juice.
1 package of arugula
1 pound fresh asparagus
For the chicken, have your butcher remove the bones but leave the skin intact.
Start by making the spice rub for the chicken. Take fennel and coriander seeds and place them into a spice grinder (a small coffee grinder that’s only used for grinding spices). Transfer the ground fennel and coriander to a small bowl. Next, add the ground white pepper to the bowl, stir to combine. That’s the spice rub.
Season both sides of each of the chicken breasts with a tablespoon of Kosher salt first. Next, sprinkle the spice rub on both sides as well as under the skin.
Once the chicken breasts are seasoned, start with the reconstituting of the figs in the poaching liquid.
In a saucepot start with organic apple juice. Add the dried figs along and granulated sugar. Give a quick stir, turn the heat to medium-high. Bring the figs up to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, simmer for 30 minutes. This allows the figs to reconstitute and plump up.
Using a slotted spoon, remove all the figs from the poaching liquid, transfer to a bowl, and let them cool for 5 minutes. Once cooled, remove all the stems and cut the figs into quarters.
Note: It’s a good idea to do this next step in advance if possible.
Place the Concord grapes into a large plastic zip-lock bag, with your hands, crush all the grapes to release their juices. Once all the grapes are crushed, place a large bowl underneath a fine-mesh sieve. Pour the grapes and their juice into the sieve allowing the juices fall into the bowl, (I used my hands to crush any grapes I may have missed in the bag to release as much juice as possible). This process takes about 15 minutes and yields 2 cups of grape juice.
Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
Start by dicing the shallots for the sauce.
In a large preheated sauté pan over medium-high heat, carefully add the olive oil. Place the chicken, in the pan, skin side down. Cook the chicken for 4 minutes per side. Transfer to the oven to cook for another 20 to 25 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165-degrees F.
When the chicken comes out of the oven, transfer to a plate, and cover with foil. Use the same sautèpan to make the grape reduction. Be Careful because the handle of the pan is very hot.
Over medium-high heat, add the finely minced shallots, Kosher salt, and 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary to the chicken drippings still in the pan. Sautè until soft and translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the grape juice and chicken stock. Once the liquid comes up to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. Add quartered reconstituted figs.
Swirl the figs around in the grape reduction allowing them to absorb the intense grape flavor from the sauce for another minute, then turn the heat off.
To Serve: Use a deep-sided serving platter and pour the grape reduction with figs in the bottom of the platter. Lay the pan-seared chicken on top. Spoon a little of the sauce and figs over the chicken.
I like to serve this dish with a simple arugula salad, dressed with Lemon Vinaigrette and shavings of Parmesan cheese. Alongside, Sautéed Lemon Pepper Asparagus and a garnish of concord grapes.
There you have it, my Tuscan Chicken In A Concord Grape Reduction With Sweet Figs.