You find meat cooked with fruit throughout Spain but it’s especially common in Catalonia and Andalusia. It’s a legacy of the Moors. Now is the perfect time to make this, before the figs disappear or become too expensive.
Taste as you’re making it – it’s up to you how much of the fig syrup you include, for example. You need to balance a slight sweetness with the savouriness of the dish.
Prep time: 15 minutes, plus 2 hours soaking time | Cooking time: 1 hour 35 minutes
- 450g fresh figs
- 200g caster sugar
- 150ml white-wine vinegar
- A broad strip of orange zest, plus finely grated zest of 1 orange
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 500ml amontillado sherry
- 2kg chicken
- 4 garlic cloves, grated to a purée
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 500ml chicken stock
- Remove the stalks from the figs. If they’re small leave them whole. If they’re large, halve them.
- Slowly heat the sugar, vinegar, strip of orange zest and cinnamon with 200ml water in a saucepan. Raise the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, then lower the heat, add the figs and poach them really gently for 4-5 minutes or so. Take off the heat and leave the figs in the liquid for a couple of hours.
- Drain the figs, reserving the liquid, and put the figs in a bowl. Add enough sherry to cover the figs – about 200ml – and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/190C fan/gas mark 6.
- Carefully lift the skin on the breast of the bird so that you’re creating a space between the flesh and the skin. Mix the grated orange zest and garlic with half of the olive oil and season. Push half of this under the skin of the bird. Put the rest inside it, rubbing it round the cavity. Set the bird in a roasting tin that holds it quite snugly. Brush the rest of the olive oil over the bird and season well.
- Roast for 45 minutes. Add half of the remaining sherry to the roasting tin, then add the rest of it after another 15 minutes. Roast the chicken for 1 hour 15 minutes in all. Check the chicken for doneness. Pierce the skin between the leg and the body: if the juices that run out are clear, with no trace of pink, the chicken is ready. Pour the cooking juices from the tin into a saucepan then cover the chicken with foil followed by several tea towels and leave it to rest for 10 minutes.
- Add the stock to the cooking juices along with the sherry that the figs were soaking in. Bring to the boil and reduce to about 350ml. If the flavour isn’t strong enough, reduce some more. Now add some of the sweet vinegar liquid that the figs were poached in. Add it to taste – how much you use depends on what your cooking juices are like (I add it a tablespoon at a time, and find it usually takes 4).
- Warm the figs in the sauce. Put the chicken on to a warm serving platter and either spoon the figs around it – and offer the sauce on the side – or serve both the figs and the sauce in a bowl and let people help themselves.
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