3-Way Chicken (or Ménage à Trois Poulet)

We ended up having chicken three times last week.  All fairly simple and different enough to count as variety in our diet.  A Ménage à Trois Poulet.

I love fresh figs but they’re almost never available in our area.  Last week, however, there miraculously appeared fresh Mission figs in my grocery.  I knew they wouldn’t be around long so I grabbed two boxes.  I also knew they wouldn’t keep long so I set to figuring out something to do with them other than just shove them in my mouth.
The plate on the left is Grilled Chicken Paillard with Fresh Fig Salsita.  A chicken paillard is just boneless, skinless breasts pounded to about 1/4″ thickness.  I marinated ours in olive oil, vinegar, thyme and some Spanish smoked paprika and grilled them but you could pan sear them as well – just don’t overcook them.  Ours were served with Patatas Bravas (the classic Spanish roasted potatoes and spicy tomato sauce) and a side of fresh green beans sauteed with chanterelle mushrooms.  The chicken is accompanied by Fresh Fig Salsita (it’s like a cross between a salsa and a compote).

Fresh Fig Salsita

8 or 9, ripe but firm fresh figs, ends trimmed and cut into thin wedges
1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
3 T. medium-dry sherry
2 T. sherry vinegar
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil

Combine the ingredients and gently toss to mix.  Let stand for 30 minutes.  Serve with grilled meat.

From The New Spanish Table, by Anya von Bremzen, Workman Press, 2005, pg. 288.

The middle plate is another chicken breast, boneless and skinless but not pounded.  I honestly don’t remember what I seasoned it with but it was probably ancho chili, cumin, some thyme and basil and smoked paprika added to olive oil and vinegar to use as a marinade and baste.  The sides are Spanish rice (left over rice from Chinese take-out the night before fried with some onion, olive oil and a small amount of roasted tomatoes) and re-fried beans (canned black beans (whole) added to sauteed onion, cumin and Mexican oregano – mashed and fried to a slightly soupy consistency.  I like to keep the beans a little wet with some chunkiness to them, so I don’t puree them – and I don’t use canned re-fried beans – yuck!)

The right-hand plate are chicken thighs, again boneless and skinless, seasoned with a Turkish spice blend from Penzey’s.  Slice 1/2 a very large Vidallia onion and sweat in 1 T. butter and 1 T. olive oil until lightly browned – spread the onions on the bottom of a baking dish large enough to hold all the thighs in one layer.  Lightly brown the chicken thighs in the same pan you used to fry the onions (add a little oil as needed) and arrange on top of the onions.  Poke cherry or grape tomatoes in any spaces between the chicken thighs (try to get at least 2 or 3 tomatoes for each thigh).  Drizzle lightly with olive oil.  Season with coarse sea salt and black pepper.  Bake in 375 degree oven for 20 minutes.  We had these with roasted fingerling potatoes (Russian Banana are a good choice); add a side vegetable or salad of your choice.

None of these preparations is earth-shattering – just simple variations on a scheme – chicken seasoned with spices and herbs from the pantry and enhanced with what’s fresh and available in the market.  It’s not rocket surgery.

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