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Pan-Roasted Chicken with Wild Rice, Figs, Dried Cherries, and Madeira

Andria
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Pan-Roasted Chicken with Wild Rice, Figs, Dried Cherries, and Madeira

Roast chicken sits on a bed of wild rice tossed with spinach, pancetta, mushrooms, gruyere, and rosemary. You top that with a pan sauce of warm cherries, figs, and shallots, and you’ve got it all – savory, earthy, creamy, sweet.

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Wild Rice, Figs, Dried Cherries, and Madeira is not a quickie, get-it-on-the-table dinner to serve between soccer practice and homework. 

That said, it is a perfectly beautiful and absolutely delicious dinner to serve this fall, to family, or company, or both, hitting all the notes you want in an autumn recipe. Roast chicken sits on a bed of wild rice tossed with spinach, pancetta, mushrooms, gruyere, and rosemary. You top that with a pan sauce of warm cherries, figs, and shallots, and you’ve got it all – savory, earthy, creamy, sweet.

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Wild Rice, Figs, Dried Cherries, and Madeira was inspired by Smithey Ironware’s recipe for Pan-Roasted Stuffed Quail with Fresh Figs and Madeira. A few months ago, we bought a couple of Smithey cast iron pieces, including a really pretty roasting pan. As we were researching how to use it, we stumbled on their recipe for Pan-Roasted Stuffed Quail with Fresh Figs and Madeira. We loved the Smithey’s recipe. It’s just that I find quail a little hard to work with – it’s so tiny! – and thought plain old chicken breasts would make this easier. Also, when we made the Smithey’s recipe as written, we couldn’t find fresh figs. So we subbed in dried cherries for the sweet. They were so good we couldn’t leave them out this time.

There are a few steps to this recipe – make the rice, sear the chicken, make the sauce, assemble. But you will be so happy you took the time to make it. There’s nothing more suited to a perfect fall dinner!

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Wild Rice, Figs, Dried Cherries, and Madeira

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces diced pancetta
½ pound mixed mushrooms (shitake, cremini, oyster), sliced
2 cups roughly chopped fresh spinach
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup wild rice, cooked in chicken broth
1 cup grated gruyere
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons butter, divided
3 shallots, thick
½ cup dried cherries
½ cup dry madeira
6 fresh figs, cut in half
Italian parsley for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the pancetta until the fat begins to render, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, spinach, garlic, and rosemary, and sauté until the mushrooms are cooked and the pancetta is crisp, about 5 minutes. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl and stir in the cooked rice and gruyere. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper (be careful with the salt – the pancetta is salty).

Season the chicken breasts generously with salt and pepper. Melt one tablespoon of the butter in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sear for about 3 minutes on each side, until it is browned. Turn the chicken breast-side up, and transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast the chicken for another 5 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside. Return the skillet to the stove over medium heat. Add the shallots, cherries, and madeira, and cook until the madeira reduces by half, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter. Gently stir in the figs until they are warmed and coated in sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the sauce into a small bowl. To serve, spread the rice mixture on the bottom of the same skillet. Nestle the chicken breasts on top of the rice, then pour the cherry-fig sauce over the top. Sprinkle with Italian parsley.

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