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Chicken breast with rosemary, lemon and figs from Chef Aiden Byrne

Chicken and figs is a delicious combination – if you can source a bird actually raised on a diet of figs, boy are they worth it!

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Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 1 ltr/13⁄4pt white chicken stock
  • 3 large sprigs of rosemary
  • Rind of 1 lemon
  • 1 large organic, free-range chicken about 1.5kg/3lb
  • Salt and freshly ground black
  • pepper
  • 1 quantity potato gnocchi (see below)
  • 6 black figs
  • 50ml/2fl oz honey
  • 200ml/7fl oz double cream
  • 4 large tbsp lemon purée (see below)
  • Juice of 1⁄2 a lemon (optional)
  • 100ml/4fl oz brown chicken stock
  • Sorrel leaves to garnish

    Method
    Heat the white stock in a large ovenproof casserole and add two of the sprigs of rosemary and the lemon rind. Cut the legs and backbone from the chicken and remove the wishbone. Season the remaining meat generously and add to the casserole.

    Turn down the heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes, then remove the casserole from the heat and leave the chicken to cool down in the stock.

    Meanwhile, finely chop the remaining rosemary and use it to flavour the potato gnocchi (see below).

    Cut each fig into four slices. Lay on a tray and drizzle over the honey.

    Remove the chicken from the stock then return the casserole to the heat and reduce the stock by two-thirds. Add the cream and reduce by half.

    Remove the rosemary and pass the mixture through a fine sieve. Transfer to a blender and, while still warm, add the lemon purée (see right) and blend until smooth, adjusting the seasoning with a little salt and sugar. Set this lemon sauce aside and keep warm.

    Gently take the chicken breast from the bone. Remove the skin and slice the flesh thinly. Lay the slices on a plate and reheat in a steamer.

    Reheat the brown chicken stock and cook the chicken slices under the grill for 30 seconds or so, then reheat the gnocchi in the lemon sauce.

    To serve, arrange the ingredients on four plates, spoon over the brown stock and garnish with sorrel leaves.

    For the potato gnocchi (makes about 6 portions)

  • 700g/11/2lb Desiree potatoes
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 90g ‘00’ strong flour
  • 10g potato starch
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil

    Method
    Bake the potatoes in their skins in a preheated 180C°C, 350°F, Gas 3 oven. They need to be just cooked, so take care not to over- or undercook them. Remove the flesh and put through a mouli.
    Put the potato (you should have around 400g/14oz) into a bowl, add the egg yolks, flour and potato starch and season. Mix well. Divide the mixture into four and roll out each piece, coating in flour, into a long sausage shape 3-5mm/1/8-1/4in in diameter. Cut each sausage into 2cm/3/4in pieces and arrange on a tray.
    Add a little olive oil and salt to a pan of water and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat to simmer and add the gnocchi. When they float to the top remove them from the pan and plunge into iced water. Once cooled, drain and place on a tray with a little olive oil to stop them sticking.

    For the lemon purée (makes 250g/9oz)

    • 6 whole unwaxed lemons
    • 400ml/14fl oz water
    • 200g/7oz caster sugar
    • Lemon juice to taste

    Method
    Chop the lemons into four and then into four again. Put the pieces in a pan, add the water and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Simmer until three-quarters of the liquid has evaporated. Add the sugar and continue to cook until almost dry. Blend in a blender and pass through a fine sieve. Taste and either add more sugar or more fresh lemon juice. Chill until needed.



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