from the Dutch Oven Cookbook, an anniversary present from T's folks :)
I had never heard of roasting a chicken with figs and olives, and naturally I was intrigued. The first time I made it, I only had dried figs, so I used those... which didn't work too well. The moisture from the fresh figs makes all the difference. I just love the sweet and salty combination of the figs and olives. Oh my goodness--I can't tell you have good this recipe is. If I could somehow communicate the rich aroma that wafts through the house while the chicken is roasting, you might be tempted to slice into your computer screen :)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Start with a room-temperature roasting chicken (mine was about 5 pounds). Rinse the chicken, inside and out, and pat dry with a paper towel.
Coarsely chop 1 medium yellow onion (a sweet onion works well, too) and scatter in the bottom of your roasting pan. Drizzle with a couple tablespoons of olive oil.
[I like my chicken trussed nice and tight. Take the chicken wings and hook them behind the chicken's neck/back (you're essentially putting the chicken in a full Nelson hold). Add some mashed garlic and sliced onion pieces to the cavity of the chicken and tie the legs together. If you can, make sure the cavity is mostly closed by drawing up the tail fat between the legs and securing with twine.]
Rub the chicken all over with some more olive oil, and be sure to get between the breast meat and skin (you could also use butter for this). Sprinkle the chicken with salt, pepper, and herbes de Provence. I crushed a clove of garlic and rubbed that all over the chicken before sprinkling the herb-ies on :)
Place chicken on top of onions. Stem and chop about 12 figs in half and scatter around the chicken. Scatter 1/2 to 1 c of Kalamata olives around the pot. I like my fig-to-olive ratio about 1:2 (so, one half of a fig per olive). Play around with the proportions and see which part you like best: the onions, the figs, or the olives. Lightly drizzle a small amount of olive oil over everything (maybe 2 T or so).
You should roast your chicken for 20 minutes per pound, adjusting as necessary. For the first 30 minutes of cooking, roast the bird at 425 degrees. Then turn down the heat to 350 for the rest of the time. My 5 pound chicken took 1 1/2 hours to roast. Before you declare the bird done, make sure the internal temperature (behind the leg, in the meat--not next to the bone) is at least 160 degrees and that the juices run clear. If you think the bird needs your attention, feel free to baste it in its own juices every 20 minutes. I neglect my poor chickens and just leave them in the oven all on their own.
While the chicken is roasting, prepare any side dishes. I find that broiled veggies work really well. While the chicken is resting (after it's finished cooking), pop the veggies in the oven under the broiler for a few minutes. I like to do fresh green beans and onions (with a little salt, pepper, and garlic, all tossed in olive oil), but you can also add sliced squash, cherry tomatoes, or sliced peppers. Be creative (and use leftovers). Last night we added mashed potatoes to our chicken and green bean leftovers. Tasty!
Place the chicken on a platter for cutting. Scoop out the figs and olives and arrange around the chicken, leaving the cooking juice in the pot. Put the juice in a small pitcher for people to pour on their chicken (or spuds). Serve up and enjoy this dish. It's oh-so-delicioso!