Roast chicken served with figs plumped in port, oranges, and...

Roast chicken served with figs plumped in port, oranges, and a port-orange sauce. (December 2022) Credit: Marge Perry

Here is a dinner that is elegant enough for entertaining and easy enough to pull off on a weeknight.

Coarsely ground black pepper adds interesting moments of heat and crunch, but if you don’t have it, go with regular ground pepper — but half the amount. The pepper is an accent, not the focal point of flavor — the port, figs, and orange are the real stars.

Be sure to get the skin beautifully crisped on the stove before it goes into the oven, and when you drizzle sauce over the chicken at the end, leave some of the skin without sauce so it stays crisp.

To make this dish more luxurious, omit the cornstarch slurry, and stir in 3 tablespoons of cream, then cook 2 more minutes.

Portuguese-Inspired Roast Chicken with Port, Orange and Figs

2 navel oranges

8 dried figs, stems removed

3/4 cup port, divided

1 4-pound chicken, cut up (or 8 pieces thighs and/or breasts)

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper (or 1/8 teaspoon finely ground)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 teaspoon water

Parsley for garnish (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Use a vegetable peeler to remove 3 wide strips of orange peel. Peel and cut orange segments from the two oranges.

3. Place the orange zest, figs, ½ cup port and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan; bring to a boil; cook 10 minutes. Remove the figs and orange zest from the liquid; halve the figs and discard the zest. Boil the liquid another 6 minutes, until it is about ½ cup.

4. Meanwhile, season the chicken with the salt, oregano, and pepper. Heat the oil in a large oven-safe skillet. Add the chicken skin-side down and cook until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Turn the pieces of chicken over, add the remaining ¼ cup port to the pan, and roast 30 minutes, until the breasts reach an internal temperature of 160-165 degrees, and the thighs 175 degrees. Transfer the chicken to a platter and place the skillet on the stove.

5. Add the fig poaching liquid to the skillet and bring to a boil, stirring in the bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the cornstarch slurry and cook another 2 minutes until the sauce is somewhat thickened.

6. Sprinkle the figs and orange segments over and around the chicken, and drizzle with the sauce. Add parsley for garnish if desired.

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