This is the definition of a winning weeknight chicken dish: quick, sweet and sour, a little something different. Keep it in mind for when figs are in season. The fruit can be replaced with in-season plums or apricots.
At the market, we found fig spread near the specialty cheeses.
Serve with mashed potatoes. Adapted from Feel Good Food: Wholefood Recipes for Happy, Healthy Living, by Tony Chiodo (Hardie Grant Books, 2010).
Lime and Fig Chicken
4 dried figs
1/3 cup hot water
4 or 5 limes
Leaves from 2 stems mint
Leaves from 2 stems cilantro
3 or 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (1 1/4 pounds total; reserve any tenderloins for another use)
Kosher or coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fig jam or fig spread
Stem the figs and cut the fruit into quarters. Place in a small bowl and cover with the hot water. Let stand while you prep other ingredients.
Meanwhile, cut the limes in half. Squeeze to yield 1/3 cup juice. Coarsely chop the mint and cilantro.
Trim off and discard all visible fat from the chicken. Use a sharp knife to butterfly the thick part of each breast half to even/thin out the meat (do not cut all the way through). Place the breast halves between two sheets of plastic wrap and lightly pound with a mallet to achieve an even thickness of 1/2 to 3/4 inch.
Lightly season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Cut each pounded breast half into 4 equal strips.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add half of the chicken pieces and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until lightly golden. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining oil and chicken.
Add the lime juice to the skillet, stirring to dislodge any browned bits, then stir in the jam or spread. Drain the figs as needed, then add to the skillet. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring until there are no lumps of jam, then return the chicken to the skillet. Cook until the chicken is warmed through, making sure it’s also completely done and coated with the sauce.
Divide among individual plates, spooning the sauce on top. Garnish with the mint and cilantro. Serve warm. Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition per serving: 320 calories, 33 grams protein, 27 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 80 milligrams cholesterol, 190 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 23 grams sugar
– Bonnie S. Benwick, Washington Post