#1 – 48 Recipe Challenge – Recipe 7: Chicken with figs and honey (plus a bonus recipe of Grilled Plums with meringues and mascarpone)

This month’s recipe was chosen for a dinner party.  Long standing dinner party rules in my house are that every dinner party has to include one dish that is new (to force me to try new things instead of relying on the old favourites all the time) so having some friends round for dinner and a catch up was the perfect opportunity to get the recipe books out.  On this occasion, I had the additional challenge of needing to provide gluten free food plus accommodate some other dietary requirements so there was a lot to think about.

As part of my preparation, I decided it would be a good idea to go through my lever arch file of recipes and pull out all the ones I hadn’t cooked.  This took some time…  When I had finished, I had a pile of recipes 4.5cm thick in front of me, some of which (I am embarrassed to say) were printed off as long ago as 2002.  I haven’t dared count them yet but it’s fairly clear that 48 recipes isn’t going to make much of a dent in it!

However, I digress.  Back to my dinner party.  Given the dietary requirements, I ended up choosing not one new recipe but three.  Quite by accident they all happened to use seasonal ingredients as well, which is something I like to do if possible.  Almost makes me look like I know what I’m doing!

Our menu was:

To start: Potato Skins with bacon and cheese

Main:  Chicken with figs and honey, served with new potatoes, grated carrots and asparagus tips

Dessert: Grilled Plums with meringue and mascarpone

The potato skins were great.   So ridiculously easy I have no idea why I have never cooked them before.  Easy to prepare in advance and tasty.  A bit of a crowd pleaser.  Sadly I forgot to take a photo of these so photographic evidence I’m afraid.

The chicken dish was wonderful.  The recipe wanted a whole jointed chicken but I ignored it and used chicken breasts instead (because it’s just easier, but actually it would work with anything you wanted to use).

Chicken with figs and honey

Chicken with figs and honey

These were casseroled whole so very little prep required other than chopping up an onion and browning both the onion and the chicken pieces.  The sauce included white wine, chicken stock, herbs, onion, white wine vinegar and honey, giving it an interesting sweet and sour taste and unlike most casseroles it needed only half an hour in the oven then about 20 minutes on the hob.  The figs (once added) broke down so they were nice and soft and also gave the sauce a lovely pink colour which made the food look very attractive on the plate.  I probably could have made it look a bit more Masterchef by slicing the chicken but to be honest I just wanted to get it on the table whilst it was still hot.  The grated carrot (cooked in a little butter) was also remarked upon by my guests.  It often gets a good reaction and I have to thank my paternal grandmother for this idea – one of her staples from her silver service days and a hot favourite in my family for special occasions.

Scores:

Healthiness – 9/10 (less than 400 calories per serving, even using olive oil and it includes some of your five a day)

Ease of preparation – 9/10 (not difficult to chop an onion and some figs up, and a remarkably short cooking time needed.  The only slight drawback is you need a casserole dish which can cope with both the oven and the hob)

Flavour/taste – 10/10  (I really enjoyed it, the sauce kept the chicken moist and it looked pretty too)

A winner – most definitely a recipe I’d cook again.  This one gets to stay.

If you fancy giving it a go, here’s the link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-1052157/Skye-Gyngells-chicken-figs-honey.html

Plums with meringue and mascarpone

Plums with meringue and mascarpone

Since I’d remembered to get the camera out by this point, you get a bonus recipe this month: the simple but tasty dessert of plums baked with meringues and mascarpone.  I don’t know why the recipe titles itself grilled because it isn’t.  What it is, is really easy to prepare (especially if you cheat and buy meringue nests).  Putting it together took about 10 minutes and then it just needed to sit in the oven whilst we were eating the main course.  That’s good for me because I’m much more of a savoury person than sweet so whilst I’m happy to slave for hours over a starter or main, dessert has to be prepared in less than 20 minutes or I’ve lost interest!

Plonked on a plate like this it’s not going to win any prizes for presentation but I guess it could be cooked in individual ramekins and the mascarpone piped on to tidy it up a bit.  For a cold winter night though, an ideal pud.  Warm, gooey, sweet, oozing plum juice and again a nice bright colour making it attractive (even though untidy).

Scores for this one:

Healthiness – 3/10 (even though it’s fruit based and so does count towards your five a day, the mascarpone whacks up the calorie count to a whopping 600 calories per portion!)

Ease of preparation – 10/10 (just halve and stone the plums, crumble over the meringue, dot with mascarpone, sprinkle with sugar, then bake)

Flavour/taste – 10/10 (I liked it so much last night I cooked it again today when my parents came over for lunch!)

Despite the high calorie count, this is another one that makes the grade.  It’s an Anthony Worral Thompson recipe from Saturday Kitchen:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/grilledfruitwithmasc_72274

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