A Cookie is Just a Cookie, But Fig Chicken is from The Zuni Cafe

The Zuni Cafe cookbook has been ignored long enough. Silenty it’s sat on my cookbook shelf, batting its eyes as I passed it over for Barefoot contessas and Amanda Hessers. But a few nights ago, while the other cookbooks were out smoking cigarettes, the Zuni Cafe cookbook and I made eye contact. I felt a spark and began flipping. I came across this recipe: “Chicken Braised with Figs, Honey and Vinegar.”

What interesting flavors. How sumptuous. How tempting. Ok, Zuni Cafe, here’s your shot.

Now, sometimes I document a cooking experience complete with recipe if I think that recipe is worthwhile. Perhaps I’m giving everything away by telling you that I’m not going to document this recipe. It’s not that it’s not worthwhile, but it’s not recipe-recitation worthy. If it wins you over by the end, carry yourself over to the bookstore and do what any law-abiding American would do: bring an index card and copy it out of the Zuni book before the store manager catches you.

So, anyway, there’s chicken:


Four chicken legs to be exact. They get browned in olive oil for 8 minutes. To be honest, I don’t think they got browned enough, but who am I to tell a chicken it isn’t tan?


Now the fun stuff. You add wine, vermouth, chicken stock, a bay leaf, fresh thyme, black peppercorns and an onion cut into 8 wedges.


You bring it to a simmer, put it into an oven for 40 minutes uncovered and then take it out. Meanwhile, chop 8 fresh figs in half:


When the chicken comes out, you add cider vinegar, honey and the figs. This is the part that involves the creation of a sauce. I found this part confusing because I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to take the chicken out during the sauce making. The instructions never say to take the chicken out. So you bring it to a boil waiting for it to turn syrupy, which I suppose it did. I liked the flavor of the sauce. Here’s what it looks like all saucy:


And all in all it tasted good. Terrific? No. Definitely not. The onions tasted good. The figs were fun. The Zuni Cafe cookbook was slipped back upon the shelf while the Contessa and Hesser and I had a 3-way. Sorry. These things happen.

5 thoughts on “A Cookie is Just a Cookie, But Fig Chicken is from The Zuni Cafe”

  1. Try Zuni’s recipe for roast chicken with bread salad. Really good. Sit down and read the recipe first though, to get a handle on it. I tried making it while guests were there and got a bit flustered.

  2. I just got this cookbook for Christmas and am still reading the introductory stuff about how to choose your pans and why you should salt early. It’s great evening reading.

    If any of the recipes should turn out to be spectacular, I’ll let you know and maybe you can give it a second date?


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