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Montalcino Chicken with Figs and Buttered Gnocchi

February 2006
Montalcino Chicken with Figs and Buttered Gnocchi

by 12 people

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For my husband: John and I named this dish after the Tuscan town where we were married because its flavors are some of my favorites, and because I liberally use a wine from the region, Rosso di Montalcino. I plan to make this dish for John every year on our wedding anniversary.

Makes: 4 servings

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), 4 turns of the pan
  • 1/3 pound thick-cut (1/4 inch) pancetta, cut into sticks
  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts and thighs, cut into large chunks
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • All-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 14 - 16 dried Mission figs, quartered
  • 1/3 bottle Rosso di Montalcino wine (eyeball it)
  • 1 1/2- 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (a generous handful)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
  • 1 12 - 16 ounce package  fresh or frozen store-bought gnocchi
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (eyeball it)
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons chopped chives (10 chives)
  1. Heat a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the EVOO, 4 turns of the pan, and the pancetta. Cook the pancetta for 3 to 4 minutes to brown and crisp it, then remove with a slotted spoon and reserve. Place a large pot of water on the stove to boil.
  2. Meanwhile, season the chicken chunks with salt and pepper and dredge in a little flour. Reheat the skillet, add the chicken and brown over high heat for a few minutes on each side, then scoot the meat to the edges of the pan and add the onion, garlic and figs. Cook for 5 minutes, then mix the chicken chunks into the onion and figs. Add the wine to the pan and cook it down for 5 minutes or so, until about 1/3 cup remains. Add 11/2 cups of the chicken broth, the parsley, lemon zest and thyme, and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the chicken another 10 minutes, while you prepare the gnocchi.
  3. Salt the boiling water and add the gnocchi; cook according to the package directions, then drain. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Melt the butter and cook until the butter is browned. Add the gnocchi to the browned butter. Raise the heat to medium-high and lightly brown the gnocchi. Season the gnocchi with salt, pepper and the nutmeg, turning the gnocchi to coat. Add the chives, toss the gnocchi and remove from the heat.
  4. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning. If you would like a little more sauce, add the other 1/2 cup of broth to the pan. Mound the chicken and figs in shallow bowls and pile the gnocchi on top of the chicken in the center of the bowls. Garnish with the crisp pancetta sticks and serve.
  • Col d'Orcia Rosso di Montalcino 2003 (Italy)
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  • Pancetta is just Italian rolled, cured pork, similar to bacon but not smoked. Look for it at your deli counter. (Bacon can be substituted; you'll get a smokier flavor.)