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Stovetop fig jam and manchego cheese fill chicken breasts, which then cook in luxurious port wine cream sauce. [Photograph: Jennifer Olvera]

An easy fig jam, made on the stove, joins nutty manchego cheese as the filling for simple but elegant chicken breasts, part of our week-long series on fun ways to stuff chicken breast. Finished in a port wine pan sauce with garlic, a touch of grainy mustard and heavy cream, the results are luxurious.

To make the jam, I simmer figs on the stovetop with lemon juice and zest, honey, sugar, and a touch of balsamic vinegar and black pepper until it's thick enough to coat a spoon. After cooling and setting, the stuff will keep in the fridge for weeks. Since the fig jam goes so darn well with a nice nutty cheese like manchego, I decided to incorporate both into my chicken breasts.

Stuffing chicken breast isn't tricky, but you do need to take precautions so the filling doesn't ooze out. The most effective technique involves butterflying the meat by cutting it nearly—but not all the way—in half, so that it opens like a book.

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Then I pound it between two pieces of plastic wrap to 1/4-inch thickness and trim the edges to create an even rectangle.

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Next, I spoon and spread 1 1/2 tablespoons each of the fig jam and cheese on top, leaving a perimeter on all sides.

Finally, I roll it lengthwise and secure the meat at 3/4-inch intervals using kitchen twine, starting 1/4-inch from the edge. Toothpicks just don't keep the filling in place, so avoid the temptation to use them instead.

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After searing the stuffed breasts in a skillet, I finish the dish off by making a quick port wine pan sauce, scraping up the browned bits in the bottom of the skillet and whisking in heavy cream and mustard to enrich it. A quick turn in the sauce and dinner is ready to go.

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