Let's Dish With Linda Lou

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Tuscan Chicken In A Concord Grape Reduction With Figs

on October 2, 2015

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This has to be one of my favorite chicken dishes ever! Chef Michael Chiarello inspired me to make this recipe after seeing him do it on television. The name sounds really fancy, but the dish is not hard to make. There are a few step that need to be followed and none of them are hard to do.  I would have like to have used fresh figs, as he did, but they weren’t in season at the time.  I used dried figs and reconstituted them. I’ll tell you how I did this in a minute. I’m starting with the spice rub for the chicken.

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All I did to make the spice rub for the chicken was to take fennel and coriander seeds and place them into a spice grinder. Then I dumped the spices into a bowl and added some white pepper. That’s the spice rub. Now for the chicken. I had my butcher remove the bone from four skin-on chicken breasts. I seasoned both sides of the chicken with Kosher salt first. Then I sprinkled a good amount of the spice rub on both sides, and carefully, under the skin as well. I’m pan searing the chicken for this dish and then, finishing it off in the oven. In a large pan, pre- heated, on med-high heat, I added in some olive oil and place the chicken in skin side down first. I cooked the chicken for about 4 minutes on that side and then turned the chicken over and cooked it for another 4 minutes on the other side. Once I finished both sides, then I place the pan right into a pre-heated 350 degree oven for another 20-25 minutes or until the internal temperature was 165 degrees. After the chicken comes out of the oven, I remove it from the saute pan, place the cooked chicken on a plate. I cover the chicken with foil and move onto my sauce.

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Earlier I prepared the ingredients for my sauce. This is what I did. First, I bought concord grapes. I placed them into a large plastic zip-lock bag, and with my hands, crushed all the grapes to release their juices. Once all the grapes were crushed, I set them in a fine strainer over a large bowl to let the juices fall into the bowl. I used my hands to crush any grapes that I may have missed in the bag to release as much juice as possible. This process took about 15 minutes. In the end I had 2 cups of grape juice. While I was working on the grapes, on the stove I had 4 cups of organic apple juice in a large sauce pot. I placed the dried figs and a 1/4 cup of granulated sugar into the pot. First, I gave it a quick stir then turned the burner on med high heat, I brought the figs up to a boil, then reduced the heat to med low and let this simmer for 30 minutes. This allowed to figs to reconstitute in the apple juice and plump up. Using a slotted spoon I fished all the figs out of the poaching liquid and let them cool for 5 minutes. Once cooled, I removed all the stems and cut the figs into quarters.

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Getting back to the chicken, I have the saute pan with the chicken dripping still in the bottom. On med high heat, I have 1/2 a finely diced red onion ( 1 whole dice shallot would be fine too) that I’ve added to the hot pan. I saute the onion until they are soft and translucent. To the onion, I sprinkle in some Kosher salt and black pepper. Next two sprigs of fresh rosemary. This will add extra flavor to the sauce. As the pan is bubbling I pour in the fresh grape juice and some unsalted chicken broth. Still on med high heat, I allow the sauce to come up to a bubble and reduce the heat to a simmer for another 5-7 minutes. Next,I  add in the reconstituted figs, that I quartered, to the pan letting them swim around in this delicious grape reduction for another couple of minutes to absorb the flavor. Finally, swirling the pan around carefully, I add another sprinkling of Kosher salt, and turn heat off. This amazing sauce is ready to be poured all over the pan seared chicken. I served this Tuscan chicken with a simple arugula salad dressed with shavings of Parmesan cheese and a lemon vinaigrette. Also, lemon pepper sauteed asparagus, and a garnish of concord grapes.

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Prep Time: 35 minutes
Total Cooking Time: 45-50 minutes
Yields: 4 servings
4 boneless skin-on chicken breasts
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon Fennel seeds, ground
1 tablespoon Coriander seeds, ground
1 teaspoon of white pepper
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 a finely diced red onion ( 1 whole diced shallot)
1 package of dried black mission figs (reconstituted) stems removed and quartered ( if available, 2 pints of fresh figs quartered and stems removed)
4 pints of concord grapes (reserve some for garnish)
1 pint concord grape juice
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1/2 cup of unsalted chicken broth
Kosher salt to taste

Start out by making the spice rub for the chicken. Once the rub is made, start poaching the dried figs in the apple juice and sugar for 30 minutes. While it’s simmering, continue with the prep. Place the grapes into large plastic bag, and using you hands, crush all the grapes. Next place them into a strainer over a large bowl. While the grapes are draining, Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and dice the onion for the sauce.  On the stove, have a large saute pan heating up and ready. Season the chicken with Kosher salt and the spice rub. Don’t forget to get some of the rub under the skin too.  Add the olive oil to the pan. Start with the skin side down, sear the chicken about 4 minutes each side. Then place the chicken into the 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until the internal temp is 165 degrees. While the chicken is in the oven, the figs should be ready to come out of the poaching liquid. Let the figs cool for about 5 minutes then remove the stems and quarter the figs. When the chicken comes out of the oven, place them onto a plate and cover with foil. Using the same saute pan to make the grape reduction. Be careful because the handle is hot from the oven. On med high heat, add in the 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary and the diced onions to the chicken dripping that are still in the pan. Saute until translucent. Add in the grape juice and unsalted chicken broth. Once it comes up to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Simmer this for 5-7 minutes and then add in the figs. Season with a sprinkling of Kosher salt. Swirl the figs around in the grape reduction so they absorb that grape flavor for another couple of minutes and then turn off the heat. Place the chicken on a serving platter and pour over the grape reduction with figs.

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Recipe For My Lemon Vinaigrette
1-8 ounce jelly jar with lid
4 tablespoon or 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice ( usually 3 lemons)
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of fresh cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon Agave nectar
8 tablespoons or 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil E.V.O.O.
Place all the ingredients into the jelly jar. Place the lid on tightly and shake.


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