The flavours in this recipe will make you feel as though you're in Provence.
My fig tree grows against the sunny wall of the kitchen garden and the fruit from it tastes far better than I could buy in any supermarket. So much is lost, it seems, by refrigerating them. They’re delicious devoured on the spot, but, if you have a glut, you may want to try this week’s recipe–the flavours will make you feel as if you’re in Provence.
Fig, rosemary and balsamic roasted chicken with roasted fig parcels (serves 4)
4 figs (plus more below)
8 cloves garlic, peeled and squashed under the back of a knife
2 sprigs rosemary
1 whole free-range chicken
1 red onion
1 lemon, peel cut off
2 packets microwaveable brown rice
2 teaspoons sea-salt flakes
50ml balsamic vinegar
4 slices Parma ham
1 sprig rosemary
Salad leaves to serve
Preheat your oven to 200 ̊C/400 ̊F/gas mark 6, then, after 10 min- utes, reduce the temperature to 180 ̊C/350 ̊F/gas mark 4.
Roughly chop four of the figs and simmer them in a saucepan with the garlic cloves, seasoning, a splash of olive oil and a couple of sprigs of rosemary until they resemble a soft compote, then set aside until cool.
Loosen the skin on the breast of the chicken and spoon the fig mixture between the breast meat and skin. Put the remainder inside the cavity, then add a peeled and chopped red onion and the flesh of the lemon, mixed with some of the brown rice and the leaves from a sprig of rosemary. Butter the outer skin of the chicken, generously sprinkle with sea-salt flakes and roast for 1½ hours.
Be careful not to slice the rest of the figs into quarters—cut crosses into them, so that they open at the top. Wrap a slice of Parma ham around the base of each one, so they stand upright, and drop a piece of Camembert into the opening, along with a sprig of rosemary. Repeat with the remaining figs and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Ten minutes before the chicken is ready, add the Camembert-filled figs to the baking tray, brush the chicken liberally with the balsamic vinegar—it will run into the pan juices, making the most delicious sauce—and return to the oven.
To serve, remove the rice from the cavity and add it to the other sachet of microwaveable rice, mixing both together in a serving bowl. Carve the chicken and serve with the fig parcels and rice stuffing, with the pan juices drizzled over them, and a crunchy salad.
More ways with figs
Roasted sweet-potato-and- fig salad (left)
Peel and chop 2 sweet potatoes into evenly sized pieces, along with two red onions cut into wedges, drizzle with olive oil and roast on a baking tray in a moderately hot oven for 35 minutes or until cooked. Ten minutes before they’re ready, add 6 halved figs and, when cooked, allow to cool slightly. Scatter rocket, 2 chopped red chillies, a handful freshly chopped basil leaves, a ball of buffalo mozzarella, torn into pieces, and a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds onto a large platter and top with the roasted sweet potatoes and figs. Season and pour olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the salad, mix together and serve.
Indian spiced-fig raita with poppadoms
Quarter 6 figs and roast on a baking tray, with half a tea- spoon each of turmeric, cumin and garam masala, until soft and squishy. While the figs are cooking, mix 100ml natural yoghurt, a few finely chopped leaves of mint, seasoning and a squeeze of lemon juice in a bowl. Finally, add the cooked figs, mix well—if you fancy a little extra kick, add a pinch of chilli powder—and serve with the poppadoms to dip into the raita.
Fig, yoghurt and tahini pudding
Mix 4 tablespoons of Greek yoghurt, 1 tablespoon tahini and 1 tablespoon honey in a serving bowl, sprinkle with a tablespoon of desiccated coconut and place a fresh, sliced fig on the top. Add a sprig of mint for colour and serve.