Bay-Scented Chicken with Figs

F all 2009 Recipe

Contributed by Edible Communities

The enchanting scent that lingers in your memory after an autumn walk in the East Bay hills is likely to be from the leaves of the native bay tree. This recipe brings that scent to the dinner table in a perfect commingling with other local ingredients. Have fun with this recipe and play around with additional fresh or dried fruits instead of using the optional ingredients here.


Makes 4 servings

  • 4 chicken legs, or 1 chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds) cut in quarters
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 6 fresh figs or 8 dried figs, cut in quarters
  • 8 pitted prunes, cut in quarters, optional
  • 1/2 cup drained green olives, pitted and halved, or 1/4 cups drained and rinsed capers optional
  • 5 fresh bay leaves or 2 dried bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme (tied together with kitchen twine) or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme


1. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper evenly over the chicken pieces. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces skin side down and cook until the skin is deeply browned, about 3 to 5 minutes. Turn over each piece and brown the other side for about 2 minutes. Remove the chicken to a platter


2. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onions and cook, scraping the bottom of the pan and stirring occasionally until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Whisk in the wine and cook, stirring, until the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and cook, stirring, until smooth. Add the figs, prunes (if using), olives (if using), bay leaves, thyme, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, and stir well to combine. Add the chicken pieces and any juices in a single layer. Bring the sauce to a boil, cover the pan, reduce the heat, and simmer until the chicken is tender and no longer pink inside, about 40 to 45 minutes.


3. To serve: Remove the chicken from the pan. Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs from the sauce. Stir the sauce well, and press down a bit on some of the figs and prunes to release some of their flavors into the sauce. Pour the sauce onto a shallow platter and place the chicken on top. Spoon some of the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately, accompanied by basmati rice

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