It Feels Like Fall - Baked Chicken With Cotija, Green Chilies, Chorizo and Roasted Figs

Fall is beautiful here in Seattle.  We've been having sunny but cool days which are my favorite.  My summer vegetable garden has been cleared and garlic has been planted for next year.  And something special has happened.  After 4 years, my fig tree is finally producing ripe figs.  On an early fall day, several years ago, I was on a walk with a friend when an elderly woman, who was outside gardening, asked if we wanted to try a fig from her tree.  She plucked two large ripe figs from the tree and they were amazing.  I was getting a fig tree.  Since planting my Turkish Brown fig tree, it has only produced tiny figs which never seemed to ripen and would remain green and hard until they fell off the tree.  It started out as a small three feet tall sapling.  It grew quickly and I've trimmed it back the last two years wanting to keep the tree smallish and manageable.  Now, when I had given up expecting any figs from the tree, we have been rewarded for our patience.  When Stella saw the colander of figs on the kitchen counter, and found out they came from our tree, she picked one up, squeezed it gently and said with glee, "they're so soft and plump!".  She then did a little happy squeeze of her hands and floated away.  Oh happy day.  I must find a way to incorporate them into our dinner tonight.

Yesterday, while talking to the man at the fish counter about the paella I was making last night, we got into a discussion about chorizo.  This led to him describing to me a chicken stuffed with Cotija cheese and green chilies and topped with chorizo.  Sold.  I'm thinking there's probably more to the chicken than we so quickly covered and it was definitely not supposed to be served with figs, but I had to work them in somehow.  

4 Boneless chicken breasts with skin on
1 Cup grated Cotija cheese
2 Tablespoons chopped green chilies, I used canned, fire roasted hatch chilies
¼ Cup finely diced dried/cured chorizo
Additional thinly sliced chorizo for garnish

Flour for coating:
½ Cup flour
1 Teaspoon kosher salt
¼ Teaspoon chili powder
¼ Teaspoon paprika
freshly ground black pepper

Make a sideways slit with a sharp knife into the middle of each chicken breast, cutting through until you reach near the other side, but not all the way through, to make a large pocket.  
Mix the Cotija, chilies and diced chorizo together.  
Stuff each chicken breast with the Cotija mixture and seal the opening with toothpicks.
Mix together the flour and seasonings.
Coat each chicken breast with the flour mixture.

Heat oven to 400f.
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add 2 tablespoons of butter or olive oil.  Add chicken, skin side down first and brown the chicken completely.  
Place chicken onto a large baking pan and place in the oven.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until chicken is cooked through and the Cojita is melted.

For the Figs:
8-10 figs, sliced in half lengthwise
Place figs onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper.
Drizzle figs with good quality balsamic vinegar.  Top with some grated Cotija cheese.  Sprinkle with just a wee bit of cayenne pepper and finish with freshly ground black pepper. 
Use the broiling function on your oven and place the pan under the broiler for a few minutes until the figs shrivel just slightly and the cheese melts.  
Serve chicken with the figs and a few slices of chorizo.
Happy Fall!


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