Sunday Lunch: Braised Chicken with Olives and Figs
Winter Sundays in the kitchen are about comfort food. They are about slow cooking, braising, and simmering. Sundays are about filling the house with the wonderful aroma of roasting chicken or the sweet smell of apple pie. There is nothing like walking into a warm house on a cold day to the smells and sounds of food being lovingly prepared. This past Sunday was about these very things as we visited family in Victoria and cooked and shared many meals around the table. The weekend was about nothing more than cooking, eating, catching up and celebrating the ones we love. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
In my books, Sundays are for sleeping in, late breakfasts that carry on into the early afternoon, and simple but delicious meals that take a bit more time to prepare. Meals that we just don’t have time or energy to prepare on a week night.
Sunday lunches or dinners were (and still are) an important time in our house growing up. We would always sit down as a family, share a meal and catch up on the week. For many years my grandfather joined us too and told amazing tales about the farm and all the wonderful meals he had eaten over the last 80 years. He too was a lover of great food.
The meal we chose for this particular Sunday lunch comes from Lucy Waverman’s great cookbook titled A Matter of Taste. The recipe takes a bit of preparation at the start but then you can just sit back and let it cook while you enjoy a glass of wine and a visit with friends and family.
This dish is a lovely balance of sweet, salty and tart with the figs, olives and touch of balsamic. Use the best quality chicken you can for better flavour and happier chickens. As with all the ingredients you buy, the closer to home they are grown or raised the better.
While I look forward to spring lurking around the corner, a time of renewed energy, lighter fare, and all things green, I know I will miss these days of slow cooking and long hours spent in the kitchen and around the dining room table. The beauty and joy of cooking and eating seasonally is that there is always something new to look forward to when the seasons change.
Remember to raise a glass to the farmer who lovingly grew your veggies or raised the chicken for your Sunday meal. Gratitude always makes a meal taste better.
What is your favourite winter meal to cook for Sunday lunch or dinner? I would love to hear about it.
Braised Chicken with Olives and Figs
This recipe is adapted from Lucy Waverman’s book A Matter of Taste. It is lovely served over quinoa or a mixed grain pilaf and with steamed greens or a big leafy salad. It also works well to make it ahead and reheat it before serving. Reheat at 325F for about 20 minutes or until warmed through.
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup dried figs, quartered
1 cup white wine
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika (or more regular paprika)
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp thyme (fresh or dried)
1/4 tsp cayenne
Salt and pepper to taste
3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup pitted olives, cut in half
2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
Preheat the oven to 325F.
Drizzle the cherry tomatoes with 1 tbsp olive oil and toss. Place them on a baking sheet and roast for 20 – 25 minutes or until nicely browned and a bit dried out.
Meanwhile, combine the figs and wine in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil and let boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let the figs sit for 20 minutes. Strain and reserve the figs and the soaking liquid separately.
In a small bowl, combine the paprika, smoked paprika, ginger, thyme, cayenne, salt and pepper. Season the chicken with half of the seasoning mix. Heat the remaning tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Brown the chicken in batches for 2 minutes a side or until golden. Transfer chicken to an ovenproof casserole. Add the onions, garlic, and remaining seasoning mix to the skillet and saute until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the reserved cooking liquid, chicken stock, vinegar, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil. Pour the sauce over the chicken and scatter with the figs and olives.
Cover the casserole and bake for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bake, uncovered for 15 – 20 minutes longer or until the chicken is cooked through.
Taste for seasoning. Garnish with parsley and serve.