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Tuscan Chicken In A Concord Grape Reduction With Sweet Figs


This has to be one of my favorite chicken dishes ever! Chef Michael Chiarello inspired me to make this recipe. Tuscan Chicken In A Concord Grape Reduction With Sweet Figs sounds like it would be a really hard dish to make but, in fact, the opposite is true.

There are a few steps that need to be followed. I would have liked to have been able to use fresh figs like he did but they weren’t in season at the time. Instead, I used dried figs and reconstituted them.

I’m starting with the spice rub for the chicken.

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Skin-On Boneless Chicken Breasts

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Rosemary (2)



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Prep Time: 35 minutes
Total Cooking Time: 50 minutes
Yields: 4 servings
Equipment: 1 (12-inch) sautè pan, 1 (3-quart) saucepot, coffee/spice grinder, large deep-sided serving platter

Ingredients For The Chicken:
4 boneless chicken breasts, skin-on chicken and boneless
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, ground
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, ground
1 teaspoon of freshly ground white pepper
1 tablespoon Kosher salt

Ingredients For Reconstituting Dried Figs:
4 cups organic apple juice
1 package dried black mission figs
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Ingredients For The Concord Grape Reduction With Sweet Figs:
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
1/2 a red onion, finely diced (substitute 1 whole shallot, finely diced)
2 heaping cups of black mission figs, reconstituted, stems removed and quartered, (if available, 2 pints of fresh black mission figs, stems removed, quartered)
2 cups of fresh Concord grape juice, (6 pints of fresh concord grapes), reserving back 4 small clusters of Concord grapes for garnish
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1/2 cup of chicken stock, unsated
Kosher salt to taste

Note: If fresh Concord grapes are not available, substitute 2 cups of organic Welch’s Concord grape juice.

1 package of arugula
1 pound fresh asparagus
Parmigiano-Reggiano, garnish

For the chicken, have your butcher remove the bones but leave the skin intact.

Start by making the spice rub for the chicken. Take fennel and coriander seeds and place them into a spice grinder (a small coffee grinder that’s only used for grinding spices). Transfer the ground fennel and coriander to a small bowl.  Next, add the ground white pepper to the bowl, stir to combine. That’s the spice rub.

Season both sides of each of the chicken breasts with a tablespoon of Kosher salt first. Next, sprinkle the spice rub on both sides as well as under the skin.

Once the chicken breasts are seasoned, start with the reconstituting of the figs in the poaching liquid.

In a saucepot start with organic apple juice. Add the dried figs along and granulated sugar. Give a quick stir, turn the heat to medium-high. Bring the figs up to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, simmer for 30 minutes. This allows the figs to reconstitute and plump up.

Using a slotted spoon, remove all the figs from the poaching liquid, transfer to a bowl, and let them cool for 5 minutes. Once cooled, remove all the stems and cut the figs into quarters.

Note: It’s a good idea to do this next step in advance if possible.
Place the Concord grapes into a large plastic zip-lock bag, with your hands, crush all the grapes to release their juices. Once all the grapes are crushed,  place a large bowl underneath a fine-mesh sieve. Pour the grapes and their juice into the sieve allowing the juices fall into the bowl, (I used my hands to crush any grapes I may have missed in the bag to release as much juice as possible). This process takes about 15 minutes and yields 2 cups of grape juice.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.

Start by dicing the onions (or shallots) for the sauce.

In a large preheated sauté pan over medium-high heat, carefully add the olive oil. Place the chicken, in the pan, skin side down. Cook the chicken for 4 minutes per side. Transfer to the oven to cook for another 20 to 25 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165-degrees F.

When the chicken comes out of the oven, transfer to a plate, and cover with foil. Use the same sautèpan to make the grape reduction. Be Careful because the handle of the pan is very hot.

On medium-high heat, add in the 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary and the finely diced onions (or diced shallots) to the chicken drippings still in the pan. Sautè until soft and translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add in the grape juice and unsalted chicken broth. Once the liquid comes up to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. Add quartered reconstituted figs. Finally, a light sprinkling of Kosher salt.

Swirl the figs around in the grape reduction allowing them to absorb the intense grape flavor of the sauce for another minute and then turn the heat off.

To Serve: Use a deep-sided serving platter and pour the grape reduction with figs in the bottom of the platter. Lay the pan-seared chicken on top. Spoon a little of the sauce and figs over the chicken.

I like to serve this Tuscan Chicken In A Concord Grape Reduction With Sweet Figs with a simple arugula salad, dressed with Lemon Vinaigrette and shavings of Parmesan cheese.  Alongside, Sautéed Lemon Pepper Asparagus and a garnish of concord grapes.

Vinaigrettes, Balsamic, Cilantro-Lime, And Lemon

Lemon Pepper Asparagus 

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Pan Seared Gnocchi

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Gnocchi is a great side dish, but what about as the main dish? I wanted to rethink how I could make these delicious billowy cloud-like potato dumplings into something with a little more texture. I thought about changing the cooking process to a more Asian-style technique.

The traditional way to cook them is to drop them into boiling salted water. when they float to the surface they’re done.  When you cook with Asian dumplings they’re sometimes pan-fried, first to give that crunchy exterior, then a splash of water is added, the lid is placed on, and they finish by steaming. This allows for the inside to have a creamy texture.

I decided to give this technique a try with gnocchi. For this challenge, rather than making the gnocchi from scratch, I decided to buy a good store-bought brand. It turns out, most grocery stores today carry fresh potato gnocchi so easy it’s easily available. This is my Pan Seared Gnocchi.


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Olive Oil

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley



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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time Total: 12 minutes
Total Time: 17 minutes
Yields: 2 servings
Equipment: 2 (12-inch) sauté pans, 1 tight-fitting glass lid, chef’s knife

1 package of potato gnocchi
1/4 cup of orange bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1/4 cup of red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1/4 cup of yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
2 garlic cloves, freshly grated
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 stick of butter, unsalted
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated (more if you like)
2 tablespoons of Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped for garnish

In a preheated sauté pan over medium heat add olive oil. Add the finely diced bell peppers, stirring frequently, cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until peppers soften.  Season with Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Add in the grated garlic and continue cooking for another 1 to 2 minutes. Set aside.

This next stage goes pretty fast. In another large sauté pan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the entire package of gnocchi to the pan. Brown the gnocchi on the one side for 2 to 3 minutes. Don’t disturb them. The gnocchi needs a chance to brown and caramelize. Once that happens, using a spatula, flip the gnocchi and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes on the other side.

Next, add the water. The gnocchi will start to steam. Immediately cover with a tight-fitting lid (preferably a glass lid). Once all the water evaporates about 2 minutes, remove the gnocchi from the heat.

Transfer the gnocchi to a large serving bowl. Add the sautéed peppers, toss to combine. Grate Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese over the top and garnish with Italian flat-leaf parsley. Serve hot. There you have it my Pan Seared Gnocchi.

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