Voila! Single-Serving, No-Mess Dijon Fig Chicken

Rebecca Peters-Golden

by Rebecca Peters-Golden on August 11, 2014

Written by Rebecca Peters-Golden
I have a confession to make. I hate to cook chicken. I love to eat it, but every method of preparing it presents a real problem for me. Pan-searing usually results in hot oil spatter, a tough piece of chicken, and a pan crusted with yuck. Frying is delicious, but too much work and too much handwringing over cholesterol. Roasting a whole chicken is divine, but who has the time on a late weeknight evening? And besides . . . I have something else to get off my chest:

I steadfastly refuse to eat leftover chicken. I don’t care how delicious the teriyaki sauce was last night or how many hours I put into roasting it, its crispy skin crackling with garlic and butter, once it’s been put in the refrigerator, chicken is dead to me. Or, well, you know what I mean. Most people say I’m crazy, but, to me, it takes on an extremely unpleasant taste the second those refrigerator doors close.

Why on earth, you may be asking yourself, am I writing about gross things in the paradise of good food stories?

no-mess, single-serving Dijon fig chicken, via goodfoodstories.com
Because, after years of leftover-inflicted shame, I’ve finally perfected a method of preparing chicken that has solved all my problems. It’s easy; it requires almost no cleanup; it’s versatile; and, for all these reasons, it lets me cook only the chicken I want to eat right now—and then do it all over again tomorrow, if I want to, eliminating all leftovers.

I bake the chicken in an old, scratched-up pie tin (of course, you can use any smallish, oven-safe dish you like; the trick is to use something that isn’t too big—only eight inches or so—so that your chicken doesn’t dry out). I line the pie tin with foil so nothing sticks to the dish. Heck, sometimes I don’t even have to wash it. Then all I need is chicken and my favorite sauce.

Smothered in gorgeous sauce, the chicken doesn’t get tough: it just crisps a bit on the outside and stays moist inside. I’ve used this method to make delicious barbecue chicken, teriyaki chicken, and curried chicken. I’ve added salt, pepper, and some herbs to olive oil, and cooked the chicken on a bed of onions, carrots, and garlic for a single serving roast chicken that’s just as good as a whole one (I’d suggest skin-on thighs for this).

no-mess, single-serving Dijon fig chicken, via goodfoodstories.com
However I’ve prepared it, the cooking method remains the same, and so do the results: tasty, moist, healthy chicken for one—or as many as you want to feed. And, because you don’t have to do anything to the chicken except flip it halfway through, you can spend the first twenty minutes on a nice glass of wine and the second twenty minutes steaming your veggies, cooking your potatoes, making your rice, et cetera.

If it sounds like I’ve had some kind of religious experience, it’s because I have. The ability to get home from work, throw a healthy, single-serving, protein-rich meal into the oven and then change into pajamas, pour a glass of wine, and read a chapter of a book while I finish cooking has been a revelation.

This recipe is my favorite. The combination of sweet figs and savory mustard creates a marinade with a lot of flavor that pairs well with a variety of side dishes. Note: if you like the sweet and savory combo, you could also try apricot jam + balsamic vinegar or honey + peanut butter!

RPGRebecca is a writer living in Philadelphia. When not writing fiction and poetry, she blogs about young adult books at Crunchings & Munchings and copy edits at Hermes Editing. She likes bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and cheese. But mostly cheese.

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