Figs, cherries, and tarragon make a stunning blend of flavors for chicken thighs and drumsticks. Cherry Fig Chicken is good year-round, even when figs and/or cherries are not in season since you can use dried or frozen fruits with equal ease. This entree is especially popular with kids. If you prefer to make it in the crockpot, I’ve included instructions below.
Cherry Fig Chicken Recipe
1/2 cup fresh or dried chopped figs (golden or Mission figs work well)
1/2 cup frozen or dried red cherries, chopped
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried tarragon)
2 cloves garlic, pressed (or 1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf, broken in half
5 bone-in chicken thighs (skin-on or skinless – see Notes)
5 chicken drumstick legs
Additional salt and pepper to taste
Sweet Hungarian paprika
Water for deglazing the skillet
Measure figs, cherries, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, brown sugar, tarragon, garlic, salt, pepper, and bay leaf into a large freezer zip-top bag. Squish to combine the marinade. Add the chicken thighs and legs, seal the bag, and gently toss to coat the chicken pieces. Open the bag, squeeze out all the air, and reseal. (This will help keep the chicken completely submerged in the marinade.) Refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours.
When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400F. Coat a heavy roasting pan with vegetable spray. (Or line roaster with foil for easier clean-up.)
Remove the chicken from the marinade, reserving the marinade, and shake off any excess marinade. Season chicken with salt, pepper, and paprika. Heat a large heavy, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, coat with vegetable spray or olive oil. Sear the chicken on both sides until golden, turning only once. Place in a roasting pan skin-side up. (You will probably need to do this in 2 batches.)
Add about 1/2 cup water to the skillet to deglaze the pan. Scrape up any browned bits. Pour pan juices over the chicken in the roasting pan and cover with the reserved marinade.
Cover roasting pan with a lid or heavy foil. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes. (Timing will vary depending upon the meatiness of the chicken.) Remove lid or foil and cook an additional 15 minutes or until tender. Chicken should read 165 F. when tested with an instant-read thermometer.
Discard bay leaf. Serve chicken with the fruity pan juices.
Yield: 5 to 6 servings
Spray a 6-quart crockpot with vegetable oil. Marinate as described above.
Remove the chicken from the marinade, reserving the marinade, and place in the crockpot in as even a layer as possible. Pour the marinade evenly over the top of the chicken.
Season to taste with additional kosher salt and pepper and sprinkle with sweet Hungarian paprika. Cook on High for 4 hours, until chicken is tender.
If you like a thicker sauce, remove the chicken pieces from the crockpot and keep warm. Pour the liquid and fruit into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until the liquid is reduced to your liking. Use as a gravy for the chicken.
• Chicken breasts are not recommended because white meat has a tendency to dry out with extended cooking.
• I buy whole chicken legs and cut them into thighs and drumsticks myself. It is quite easy to do and much less expensive than buying pre-cut pieces.
• I prefer bone-in and skin-on chicken pieces. Bone-in chicken is much more flavorful and the skin helps hold in moisture. If need be, you can remove the skin after cooking and before topping with the pan juices.
Cherry Fig Chicken Recipe Photo ©2018 Peggy Filippone