An easy stovetop fig jam joins nutty manchego cheese as the filling for simple, but elegant, chicken breasts. Finished in a port wine pan sauce with garlic, a touch of grainy mustard and heavy cream, the results are luxurious.
Why this recipe works:
- Pounding the chicken breast halves and trimming them into an even rectangular shape makes stuffing and rolling easier.
- Kitchen twine works better than toothpicks to hold these rolls together.
- For the Fig Jam:
- 1 pound ripe figs, washed, stems discarded, flesh finely chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh juice from 2 to 3 lemons
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the Chicken:
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
- 6 ounces shredded manchego cheese
- For the Sauce:
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove minced garlic (about 1 teaspoon)
- 1/3 cup tawny port
- 1/2 cup homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon whole-grain mustard
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
For the fig jam: Combine figs, lemon juice and zest, sugar, honey, vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Raise heat to medium, bring to a rolling boil, then reduce to a bare simmer. Cook until the jam is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon rather than simply drip off, 25 to 30 minutes. Season with a tiny pinch of salt. Remove from heat. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until nearly smooth. Allow to cool at room temperature for 15 minutes, then transfer to a sealable container and refrigerate until set, at least 6 hours. Jam will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator.
For the Chicken: Using a sharp knife, butterfly the chicken breast halves: Slice along the length of each breast, and, working parallel to the cutting board, continue slicing until nearly all the way through (but not completely), so that each breast opens like a book.
Set each butterflied chicken breast half on a sheet of plastic wrap. Cover with another sheet of plastic wrap and, using a meat pounder, pound each breast to a 1/4-inch thickness. Remove plastic and trim each chicken breast to form an even rectangle. Spread 1 tablespoons of fig jam over each chicken breast, leaving a 1/4-inch border around the edges. Sprinkle each breast with 1 1/2 ounces cheese. Roll each breast lengthwise and secure at 3/4-inch intervals with kitchen twine. Season chicken all over with salt and pepper.
For the Sauce: Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add chicken and cook , turning occasionally, until well browned on all sides, and internal temperature registers 155°F on an instant-read thermometer. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil.
Reduce heat to medium and add garlic to the same skillet. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add port and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer for 3 minutes then whisk in stock, mustard, and cream. Season with salt and pepper and boil until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Remove kitchen twine from chicken and return to skillet. Spoon with sauce mixture to coat. Serve immediately, serving additional sauce on the side.
Meat pounder, kitchen twine, food processor