Monday, July 19, 2010

Blueberry Chicken

I am a very discriminating berry picker. Not any berry will do. The color has to be dark purple, almost black and dusty looking. No pea sized blueberries for me. Dime sized if possible and the few elusive ones as big as a nickel go straight into my mouth.

I don’t stand at a single bush and glean every last berry. I squint and peer and search and then reach into the back of the bush for that big, fat one that everyone else missed. Needless to say when everyone else had full buckets the bottom of my bucket was barely covered. But by the end of the day, between Grace and I, we had enough to keep a large bowl in the fridge and freeze a few bags.

When everyone else is thinking buckles, crisps, cobblers and coffee cake I am thinking chicken. Meat with a fruit sauce is one of my favorite dinners. For company, I like to do a duck breast with cherries. Another favorite is pork chops with a port and blackberry sauce. Why not chicken with blueberries?
 I want to share with you how do it without giving you step by step directions. It is nice to have those “goto” dishes in your head where you can stand at the stove and toss in and mix and taste and tweak without being tied to a recipe.

Chicken with Blueberry Sauce

I started with 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts. I am cutting back on fat so no skin for me. If you like, this would be great with a boneless skin-on breast.

Drizzle a little oil in a skillet over medium high heat and place 4 seasoned chicken breasts in it. I sprinkled the breasts liberally with a chicken rub I had on hand but just salt and pepper will do. Place in a skillet and cook without disturbing for a few minutes until the bottom is a lovely golden brown. Turn the breasts over and cook for a few more minutes on the other side, then place in a 425 degree oven and cook for about 12-15 minutes or until firm when prodded. Searing and roasting is the best way to get a juicy chicken breast with the caramel outside that adds so much flavor and a juicy interior.

While the chicken is cooking, start the sauce. Throw 2 cups of berries into a small saucepan with about a cup of red wine (you could use chicken broth if you had no wine). Cook for about ten minutes until the liquid is a little reduced and the berries are all mushy. Add a little dijon mustard, a splash of balsamic vinegar and a couple tablespoons of jam. Any jam will do, use blueberry jam if you have. The jam will help thicken and sweeten the sauce. The vinegar and the mustard can be added to taste. They will help balance the sauce – a little sweet, a little tangy and a little tart. Start with a small spoonful and taste and keep tasting and tweaking. If you like it sweeter you can add a little brown sugar or some more jam, adding more mustard or vinegar for a savory sauce.

When the chicken is done remove it from the oven and let it sit for a few minutes while you finish the sauce.
Just before serving, if you have any berries left, throw a few into the sauce to just warm. I love the combination of the cooked berries with the fresh whole ones.
Slice the chicken on the diagonal and pour a nice heaping of sauce on each one and serve the leftover sauce tableside. Everything comes together pretty easily. The dish is perfect for company but easy enough for any night.


Monday, July 05, 2010

One of my favorite things...

Although it won't fit in my toolbox I love my little waffle maker.

A few years ago during the Christmas season I was working at Williams Sonoma. I had a great discount and a small paycheck. Most of that paycheck went to tools. This mini waffle maker is one of them. It makes three mini waffles at a time. Three of you can start eating your own waffle while the next batch is being made, instead of dividing up one big one. A chirp lets you know when to peek. A teflon surface makes for easy clean-up. Cook up the extra batter and freeze. Who doesn't like a bag of little waffles in their freezer? Ready for ice cream or a quick breakfast.