Sheet Pan Chicken with Figs and Bread Salad

August 14, 2018


Author Notes: Inspired by two recipes from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, this sheet pan chicken dinner has several tricks up its sleeve that make it especially easy, inexpensive, and satisfying, such as making one scrappy vinaigrette that does triple-duty, jump-starting drumsticks under the broiler for the crispiest skin (and less hot oven time), and macerating dried figs in vinegar and hot water so they’ll stay nicely plump when roasted. It’s a combination of flavors and textures I can’t get enough of, and it’s filling enough to satisfy on its own, no sides needed.
EmilyC

Serves: 4
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 30 min

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, divided, plus more to taste (balsamic or other types of vinegar can be substituted)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 pounds chicken drumsticks (8 to 10)
  • Kosher salt plus freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 dried figs (Mission or Turkish), stems removed and halved
  • 4 cups torn bread chunks (from half a loaf of sourdough, ciabatta, or French bread)
  • 1 small yellow or red onion, thinly sliced
  • A few large handfuls of arugula
In This Recipe

Directions

  1. To make vinaigrette: combine olive oil, 3 tablespoons vinegar, and honey in a small bowl. Whisk to combine until the honey dissolves. The vinaigrette should be more tart than sweet; adjust balance if needed. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the broiler. Place the drumsticks on a half sheet pan (for easy clean-up, line it with parchment), and blot them dry with a paper towel so they’ll crisp better. Toss them in 2 to 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette until they’re evenly coated, then season well on all sides with salt and pepper.
  3. Broil drumsticks until the skin browns and crisps on the first side, then flip and repeat on the other side, about 6 minutes (note that total time will depend on the intensity of your broiler). Remove the pan from the broiler; set aside.
  4. Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine halved figs with 2 tablespoons vinegar and 3 tablespoons hot water; let macerate. (For efficiency, slice the onion and prep the bread now too.) When oven is ready, drain the figs.
  5. Add the bread, onion, and figs to the sheet pan, and toss with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. (Place the chicken to one side to make this easier.) Arrange the contents of the sheet pan in an even layer.
  6. Roast until the drumsticks are browned and fully cooked through (about 20 to 25 minutes). The bread should be nicely browned and crispy at this point, but if it’s not, remove the chicken to a plate and roast the bread, onions, and figs for a few more minutes while the chicken rests.
  7. Let cool for about 5 minutes, then add the arugula to the sheet pan. Toss well to coat the arugula and bread in the chicken drippings. Add more vinaigrette if desired. (If you want additional vinaigrette for serving, mix up a little more.) Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm.

More Great Recipes:
Salad|American|Honey|Vinegar|Arugula|Fig|Chicken|Sheet Pan|One-Pot Wonders|Weeknight Cooking|Fall|Winter

Reviews (54) Questions (0)

54 Reviews

Candaceelise November 7, 2018
This is a wonderful template for a unique dinner that everyone loves. Myself, husband, 4 year old, and 2 year old all gobbled it up. I did make some changes to make it even more week-night ready. First, the moment I got back from the store, I tossed the chicken in some homemade salad dressing (diy good seasoning) and threw it in the freezer. The night before I planned to make it, I pulled it out to defrost. It was defrosted and perfectly marinated for broiling. I did wipe off some of the marinade so that the skin would still get crispy. Also the store did not have figs, but did have dried plums, which were a delicious substitute. I used a mix of thighs and legs, keeping the thighs on a separate pan. And to top it off, I accidentally did not purchase a plain loaf of french bread like I had planned, but purchased an "everything" french loaf. Everything really worked so well, it'll definitely be a common staple on our meal rotation. Thank you for such a versatile recipe! This is what cooking is all about.
 
Author Comment
EmilyC November 7, 2018
Hi Candaceelise: Thanks so much for your sharing your tweaks and for your nice note! So happy that this is going into your meal rotation, too! ; )
 
Tori P. November 1, 2018
I made a riff off this using and really loved it. Following some of the other suggestions I did mix of ACV and Balsamic. I used skin on bone in chicken thighs that I cooked skin side up with out turning at 400F for about 35 mins. I did not have figs but I had red grapes so I roasted those and roasted large hunks of shallots too because no red onion. I guess what I'm saying is the premise of this recipe is wonderful and highly adaptable. :)
 
Author Comment
EmilyC November 1, 2018
Yay—that’s so great to hear! I cook exactly the same way (making subs based on what’s at hand) so I appreciate comments like this! Thanks so much for trying it and circling back.
 
Francoise November 4, 2018
Perfect-- I was going to browse the comments to find out if anyone used thighs instead of drumsticks!
 
Nancy E. October 14, 2018
I left a comment and question on October 6th but have not had a reply - any chance of having my questions answered soon? Thanks.<br />
 
Eric K. October 14, 2018
Just responded! Thanks, Nancy.
 
Nancy E. October 7, 2018
This evening I made this dish following the recipe nearly exactly - instead of leg I used thighs otherwise it was as written. We were three for dinner and all thought this was a delicious dish. The flavors from the vinaigrette, onions and figs were a very tasty combination and I will make this again. There was one observation that the chicken was a little bland and I wonder what could be done to give it more flavor or if this is simply that thighs are bland. Anyway, many thanks for this very good recipe.
 
Kate's K. October 14, 2018
I sprinkled some smoked paprika on the drumettes before roasting - for me, that was a good addition.
 
Eric K. October 14, 2018
Hi Nancy, chicken thighs are a little bigger, thicker than drumsticks (usually), so maybe they needed more seasoning. Did you season them well on all sides with salt and pepper? Also, if 2 to 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette wasn't enough, maybe you could try a little more next time. Hope that helps.
 
Author Comment
EmilyC October 14, 2018
Sorry Nancy for the late response! I completely agree with Eric: Seasoning (esp with thighs and breasts) is key! When I season thighs right before cooking them (vs. when I’m doing so a few hours or a day in advance), I’m more generous with the s&p since it won’t have the chance to fully penetrate and season the meat. You can of course experiment with spice blends, too. And there’s no harm with salting to taste at the dinner table (a good sea salt would be nice) if the seasoning isn’t just right! Hope this helps, and thanks so much for trying the recipe!
 
Nancy E. October 15, 2018
Thank you both, you and Eric and I will do as suggested with salt & pepper, and possibly sprinkle with paprika as well. I'm planning another dinner with friends later this month and will make this again - the vinaigrette adds such a great taste to the entire dish. Many thanks again.
 
Author Comment
EmilyC October 15, 2018
You’re welcome—so happy you’re making this again!
 
CanCanEats September 26, 2018
Really easy recipe. I pulled it together while chatting with my 3 month old. :) <br /><br />After reading the comments, I split the vinegar 1:1 AVC and balsamic and I doubled the vinaigrette amount though I ended up not needing to after using some big meaty drumsticks (lots of drippings but no splatter). I followed all of EmilyC's recommendations to other users about not using a broiler and using fresh figs instead of dried (tis the season). My husband came home and looked at the "salad" topped with drumsticks and fell in love with me even more. My friend's two year-old ate a bunch of chicken, figs, bread and sweet onion bits. A real success! <br /><br />Thanks for the recipe EmilyC!
 
Author Comment
EmilyC September 26, 2018
Ah, thanks for the sweet note! So happy to hear that both the kids and adults liked it (always a win when that happens!). Thanks so much for taking the time and extra effort to provide your notes—really appreciate it!
 
John M. September 24, 2018
Wow! Made this exactly to the recipe and it turned out great. Delicious combo of flavors and very easy to make for a full dinner from scratch! Thanks so much for the recipe!
 
Author Comment
EmilyC September 25, 2018
Wonderful! Thanks so much for trying this and circling back, John!
 
Kate's K. September 23, 2018
Delicious! and I would make it again. I read thru all the comments before making this and here is what I did: I used 1.5 lbs. drumettes, made the entire amount of vinaigrette (using balsamic vinegar) and 3 cups of torn ciabatta bread, sprinkled the drumettes with a little smoked paprika along with the s&p. It was just barely not too dry using all of the vinaigrette. Thank you Emily for a great addition to my recipe box.
 
Author Comment
EmilyC September 24, 2018
So glad you enjoyed this dish, Kate! Thanks so much for trying it and for your note!
 
VVV03 September 18, 2018
This one was a miss for us. As another poster said, bland. Also too heavy on the figs. And if you want to give it a try, make sure you put down foil, it's a mess to clean up.
 
Author Comment
EmilyC September 18, 2018
Ah, sorry to hear this! Did you use drumsticks or another type of chicken? I'll add a note about parchment/foil. I've never had an issue with anything sticking (because of enough chicken drippings and vinaigrette) but parchment would be nice insurance.
 
Cardie K. September 18, 2018
I took this to a Virgo birthday party and it was a huge hit! I did substitute balsamic vinegar and did not do the croutons bc I though they would get soggy since it was going on a buffet. The sauce was delicious though. Thanks, so many people asked for recipe...I said follow Food52
 
Author Comment
EmilyC September 18, 2018
Yay—so glad this was a hit! And good call on the balsamic...I love balsamic and figs together! Thanks for your note!
 
Lindsay S. September 17, 2018
I adored this recipe, even though I skipped bread part. Looking forward to making it again with the croutons, and on repeat all fall. The only thing I changed was to substitute part of the apple cider vinegar with fig balsamic (never not good) and I sprinkled some fresh chopped rosemary on everything when it came out of the oven, just because I had it. I would also try it with chicken thighs, which are my go-to, but might take longer to cook.<br />Home run!!
 
Author Comment
EmilyC September 17, 2018
So happy to hear this, Lindsay! Thanks so much for trying this and your note!
 
Peanut September 16, 2018
This instruction in #5 is a little confusing: “Redistribute the chicken and salad so they’re in an even layer.” At this point, only the chicken is on one side of the sheet pan, and the other side is bread, onions, and figs (no arugula/salad greens). It might be clearer to say something like, “Arrange the contents of the sheet pan into an even layer.” I am planning to make this tomorrow night!<br />
 
pemmy September 17, 2018
Just know, if you put the chicken on top of the bread cubes, those bread cubes will not crisp up.
 
Author Comment
EmilyC September 17, 2018
Thanks Peanut. I updated Step #5 per your suggestion!
 
Nancy E. September 16, 2018
My oven doesn't have a broiler so I would have to skip that step. Any idea how much added time to roasting the legs? This sounds like a very delicious meal. thanks.
 
Author Comment
EmilyC September 16, 2018
Hi Nancy: I’d roast the legs for 10 to 12 minutes on their own, then add the rest of the ingredients. The skin probably won’t get crispy, but it’ll still be delicious. <br /><br />If you are a fan of crispy skin, you can follow the method from another sheet pan chicken recipe of mine: heat an empty sheet pan in a 500 degree oven, add the chicken, lower heat to 425, and roast for 10 to 15 minutes before adding the other ingredients. The rocket-hot sheet pan will nicely brown and crisp the skin! Here’s the recipe: https://food52.com/recipes/74277-sheet-pan-chicken-with-broccoli-chickpeas-and-parmesan?from_feed=1
 
Nancy E. September 16, 2018
Thanks very much.
 
pemmy September 17, 2018
Great idea!! I made this last night and the original recipe for broiling for 6 mininutes did not do the trick. The chicken does need more seasoning/vinegrette and onions need to be in bigger pieces otherwise it charres and burns on the pan. Otherwise it's a great one pan dish that looks wonderful upon presentation.
 
Author Comment
EmilyC September 17, 2018
Hi penny: I intended the 6 minutes to be a guide (broilers vary SO MUCH in their intensity) so I added a note to make this clearer. I think the trick with the chicken is tossing it with the vinaigrette plus plenty of salt and pepper (just as much as you'd use if not using any vinaigrette at all). Thanks for your feedback!
 
Lindsay S. September 17, 2018
You could also pan roast the chicken to get crispy skin and then finish it in the oven. I've made countless recipes that follow that pattern, albeit usually with thighs not drumsticks.
 
Ann D. September 16, 2018
I was wondering about spicing this up with some cayenne, paprika, or curry powder.
 
Author Comment
EmilyC September 16, 2018
Sure, go for it! I think smoked paprika or Aleppo would be nice, too!
 
Jenny A. September 16, 2018
Has anyone used chicken breast meat in this recipe? I can’t get my husband to like chicken thighs or legs...
 
Author Comment
EmilyC September 16, 2018
Hi Jenny, I’d advise using bone-in, skin-on breasts. The flavor and texture of the bread salad depends on the rendered chicken fat. And breasts will take a bit longer, so either broil them longer, or roast them for several minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients. They should work well otherwise! Please report back if you try it this way!
 
Jenny A. September 16, 2018
Thanks Emily! I’m looking forward to trying this!<br />
 
draya3 September 16, 2018
I'm wondering if you could make this with fresh figs?
 
Author Comment
EmilyC September 16, 2018
Yes! They may get too soft if roasted for a full 20 minutes, so maybe add them about 5 minutes or so after the bread/onions.
 
Elizabeth O. September 14, 2018
Made this last night and was disappointed. Not enough dressing to moisten the ‘salad’ and quite bland. The method for making it was spot on though. It’s such a great idea that I will play with it!
 
Author Comment
EmilyC September 14, 2018
Ah, sorry to hear this! The times I’ve made this, there have been plenty of drippings in the pan to moisten the salad so not much vinaigrette was needed. I initially wrote the vinaigrette recipe to make a larger quantity but ended up wasting some. How much more did you need (a tablespoon? more?).
 
Elizabeth O. September 14, 2018
Hi EmilyC, I needed another two Tablespoons of dressing. AND, here’s the big difference I think, since you said drippings I realized I used skinless boneless thighs chopped in quarters (they came out beautifully). Drier by far than those drumsticks! They didnt contribute to the juiciness or dressing sauce.
 
Author Comment
EmilyC September 14, 2018
Thanks for your note! I’ll add a little note in Step 7 about making a little extra vinaigrette if needed. To me, that’s better than making too much and wasting it. I’ve never made this dinner with boneless/skinless thighs but suspect that less fat contributed to less flavor. There are so few ingredients here that every change will affect the outcome. Thanks again for trying this and circling back!
 
Cay C. September 10, 2018
Great looking recipe- have you considered using the vinaigrette for the chicken, too? Unfortunately, I can't cook anything with chicken in it, my husband is allergic to chicken and eggs- I've been having to modify recipes using mayo, or just avoiding chicken recipes completely. Which is unfortunate, since I love a good roast chicken or fried chicken. <br />I'm thinking of getting a countertop oven- there's some that also combine convection oven , toasting, and air frying. My mom swears by countertop ovens when its hot out- and she would know, we live in Hawaii, with no AC, just relying on the trade winds.
 
Author Comment
EmilyC September 14, 2018
Hi Cay Cay: some of the extra vinaigrette served with the drumsticks would be good! You’d probably want to 1.5x the vinaigrette ingredients if going that direction. Although I’ve never tried this, you could roast sweet potatoes or squash in place of the chicken, and all of the flavors should work well together!
 
Sonya September 10, 2018
How would you modify for fresh figs since they are definitely abundant right now?
 
Author Comment
EmilyC September 10, 2018
Hi Sonja! I’d skip the macerating step but otherwise follow the directions—i.e., halve them and toss with vinaigrette in step 5!
 
Author Comment
EmilyC September 16, 2018
Hi again: as I responded to draya above, you may want to add the figs a few minutes after the bread/onions; otherwise, they may get too soft.
 
Sipa September 10, 2018
Sounds yummy but I really prefer thighs. Do you think this would work as well with thighs? And btw what grocery store in Arlington since I live there, too?
 
Author Comment
EmilyC September 10, 2018
Hi Sipa: yes, thighs should work well! They may take a bit longer than legs, so you’ll just need to monitor them and the bread to make sure it doesn’t get too brown. As for groceries, I based the prices on recent runs to Harris Teeter and Safeway! : )
 
Eric K. August 15, 2018
Delicious, EmilyC. x
 
Author Comment
EmilyC August 15, 2018
Thanks Eric! : )