Saturday, October 17, 2009

Editor's Pick

Food52 Challenge: Your Best Recipe with Figs.

Sure, I could have done something super fancy, like a fig tart, or a pork loin in a port-fig sauce… but for this challenge, I decided to stick to my guns and go with my favorite of food preparations: the sandwich. As I’ve mentioned before, I heart sandwiches. So, I decided for the best-fig-recipe contest I might as well incorporate figs into one of my favorite sandwiches- the Chicken Charlie.

The Chicken Charlie is a sandwich that LB and I used to get at Trillium CafĂ© when we were home from college for holidays and breaks (we used to also get rounds of beer from an old high school teacher at Trillium Cafe when we were home on college breaks, but that's another story). I’ve heard rumors that Trillium was shutting down, but lucky for us, I’ve perfected their delicious sandwich. Chicken Charlie is a grilled chicken breast topped with melted Swiss, caramelized onions, honey mustard sauce, and sliced fresh pears. The crisp pears are really what makes this sandwich special and sets it apart from other chicken sandwiches. In my version, I add my kick-ass honey mustard caramelized onions instead of (or in addition to) the honey mustard sauce. I also substitute the basic bun with some kind of yummy bread like ciabatta. It’s a pretty awesomely delicious sandwich.

I decided that I couldn’t think of a better way to use figs than in the ol’ CC sandwich- aptly (and boringly) renamed the Fall Fig and Chicken Sandwich for the contest. I also wanted to jazz it up a little, so I threw in a balsamic marinade for the bird, and a nutty blue cheese spread on the bread. Since there was so much goin’ on with this sandwich, I left the honey and mustard out of the onions, but they were still kick-ass and caramelized.

The sandwiches, served on chewy ciabatta bread, were pretty great. I definitely did ol’ Chicken Charlie proud with this one. Evan had a “tummy-ache” (or he’s afraid of eating things that grow on trees or out of the ground), so I ate my sandwich and half of his. The next morning, I mixed up the leftover goodies into an awesome chicken and fig salad sandwich for work!

Once again, delightful as it was, my recipe was not a finalist in the Food 52 challenge…but… It got a nod as an Editor’s Pick! WooHOO! I’m one step closer!

The Figgy Chicken Charlie
2 chicken breasts
2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion- sliced in rings
salt & pepper
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup whipped cream cheese
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon peach or apricot jam
1 tablespoon crumbled blue cheese
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
6-8 figs- stemmed and halved (dried for chewier texture, fresh for softer texture-both work great)
1 ciabatta loaf (or 2-4 rolls)
spring greens salad mix
1 crisp pear- thinly sliced

For Chicken: Mix together worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper- Marinate chicken in mixture for up to an hour. Grill chicken on medium-high grill until cooked. Slice thin.

For Carmelized Onions: Heat 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil with 1 tablespoon butter. Add onions and cook over medium heat until golden and delicious. Remove onions from pan but leave remaining oil/butter on medium heat for figs.

For Figs: Add figs face down to hot oil/butter mixture. sautee until golden and chewy (1-2 minutes).

For Spread: Stir together cream cheese, blue cheese, nuts, jam, rosemary and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

Assembly: Heavily spread the cream cheese mixture over both sides of bread. Pile high with chicken, pears, onions, and figs. ENJOY!
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