I think the first time I ever had a fig was when I lived in northern Italy. A sweet elderly couple had loads of fig trees on their land and would bring us fresh figs from time to time. That's when I fell in love with figs. They were so fresh and delicious I could hardly stand it. I remember sitting outside in the cool fall breeze, peeling figs and eventually eating a whole basket full.
Figs are an end-of-summer-beginning-of-fall fruit with their season being from August-October. I can usually find fresh ones at Whole Foods around this time of year. This recipe calls for dried figs, but you can always sub them in for fresh ones, you just don't have to worry about soaking them in the chicken broth before adding them to the sauce. Soaking the dried figs in chicken broth makes them just a tad less sweet in my opinion which goes nicely with this savory dish.
Another little note, if you would like to give your polenta a little more bang, you can always add some cheese like parmesan or fontina.
As the years have gone by since my time in Italy, I have wanted to grow a fig tree on numerous occasions to try and replicate the freshness of those figs I had. Living in Texas, I get scared every time thinking that it will probably die because of the intense heat. If anyone has any suggestions on how to grow a nice, healthy fig tree, feel free to let me know!
HERBED CHICKEN THIGHS & BALSAMIC FIG SAUCE WITH POLENTA
- 4 chicken thighs
- 8 dried figs
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 3 cups water
- 2 cups polenta (I use this kind)
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Soak your dried figs in 1/4 cup of chicken broth while you are cooking the chicken and polenta.
- Pat your chicken thighs dry and season on both sides with salt, pepper, and thyme (use a generous amount of thyme). Add 2 tbsp of butter to a skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Once skillet is heated, add your chicken and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side or until it is firm to the touch. Set aside and keep warm.
- In a large pot, combine 3 cups of chicken broth, 3 cups of water, 1 tsp of salt, and 1 tsp of pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and add 2 cups of polenta. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently so it doesn't stick. The polenta should become thick.
- Meanwhile, using the same skillet as the chicken, add 2 more tablespoons of butter. Add your onions and garlic and let sauté for 3 minutes. Take your figs and the chicken broth they are soaking in and add them to the skillet along with an additional 1/4 cup of chicken broth and the balsamic vinegar.
- To serve, place some polenta in a low bowl, nestle a chicken thigh in the polenta and top with some fig sauce (make sure you get all the juices!) and a couple of sprigs of thyme.