While travelling through Spain one October, cooking as I went, I was surprised to see how late the fig season was. Sweet, sticky fruit hung from the laden branches by the hundreds, and we ate them everywhere we went – in syrup, with cheese, baked and fresh. My favourite of all, though, were the figs roasted in savoury guises. Here, I bake them with oloroso vinegar, a sweet, rounded sherry vinegar rather like balsamic, which coats the fruit and onions in a sticky, delicious caramel.
Roast chicken legs with sticky figs, red onions and oloroso vinegar
Crisp chicken skin, savoury olives and sweet, sticky figs make this a delicious supper dish.
Prep 20 min
Marinate 2 hr+ (optional)
Cook 40 min
1 whole head garlic
4 chicken legs, or 8 chicken pieces
Salt and pepper
2-3 tbsp oloroso vinegar, or good balsamic vinegar
8 sprigs fresh thyme
3 red onions, peeled and cut into eighths
6 not-too-ripe figs, quartered
12 black olives, halved and stoned
Extra-virgin olive oil
Bash the head of garlic several times with a rolling pin to break it open. Take two of the cloves, and peel and crush them. Cut the chicken legs in half, to separate the thighs and drumsticks, then season generously and rub in the crushed garlic, a tablespoon of the vinegar and the leaves from a few sprigs of thyme. If you have the time, cover, put in the fridge and leave to marinate for a few hours, or overnight; otherwise, crack on with cooking the dish.
An hour before you want to eat, heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390 F/gas 6. Put the remaining garlic and thyme, the onions, figs and olives in a large, deep oven tray, and season generously. Pour over three to four tablespoons of olive oil and toss with your hands. Drizzle over the last of the vinegar and roast for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a wide pan over a high heat, pour in a tablespoon of olive oil and brown the chicken skin side down for three to four minutes. Once the skin has coloured, transfer the chicken pieces to the fig and onion tray, nestling them skin side up on top, and roast, stirring once or twice, for 15-20 minutes, until the chicken juices run clear when you pierce the thickest part of a thigh with a skewer (the timing will vary depending on the size of the chicken pieces).
Serve straight from the tray with some crisp potatoes, cauliflower puree, crusty bread, a green salad – or anything else that sounds good to you.
The simple flex
I love to bake feta with figs: line a large earthenware pot with foil and add chunks of feta to figs, onions and thyme; no olives this time, but the zest and juice of half a lemon wouldn’t go amiss. Bake as above and serve with crusty bread.