RECIPE

Montalcino Chicken with Figs and Buttered Gnocchi with Pancetta and Nutmeg

Rachael says, “Montalcino is the city I married in. I will make this dish for John every September 24, for our wedding anniversary. The way to anyone’s heart, forever and ever, is through their stomach! This is not your average chicken dinner!”

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1/3 pound thick-cut (1/4-inch) pancetta, cut into sticks
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken, breasts and thighs combined, cut into large chunks
  • Salt and pepper
  • Flour, for dredging
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 14-16 dried figs, halved (look for plump, tender dried fig varieties in bulk section of market)
  • 1/3 bottle dry red wine, such as Rosso di Montalcino*
  • 1-1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley (a generous handful), chopped
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 tablespoon thyme (4 sprigs), chopped
  • 1 package fresh or frozen store-bought gnocchi (12-16 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (eyeball it)
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped chives (10 blades)

Preparation

Heat a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add EVOO, about four turns around the pan, and the cut pancetta. Brown the pancetta, about 3-4 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.

Place a pot of water on the stove to boil for the gnocchi.

While pancetta browns, season the chicken chunks with salt and pepper; dredge in a little flour and add to the hot pan. Brown the pieces a few minutes on each side over high heat, then scoot the meat to the edges of the pan and add the onions, garlic and chopped figs. Sauté five minutes, then combine chicken with onions and figs and add the wine and cook it down, five minutes or so, until only about 1/3 cup remains. Add chicken stock, parsley, lemon zest and thyme to the chicken and stir to combine. Reduce heat to simmer cook another 10 minutes, while you make the gnocchi.

Add salt and gnocchi to boiling water and cook according to package directions, four minutes for fresh gnocchi or six minutes for frozen.

Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Melt butter and brown it. Drain gnocchi and add to skillet. Raise heat to medium-high and lightly brown the gnocchi. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, then turn to coat. Add chives, toss and remove from heat.

Adjust the seasonings on the chicken with figs. If you would like a little more sauce, shake another 1/2 cup of stock into the pan. Serve the chicken and figs in shallow dishes, with the gnocchi piled in the center of the bowl on top of the chicken. Garnish with crisp pancetta sticks.

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