Friday, June 13, 2014

Dijon Chicken with Foraged Juneberries in a Beurre Rouge

Been a little longer than I intended since my last post. My experiments with wild foods in the kitchen haven't really been post-worthy lately. I experimented with a dryad's saddle mock-meat, it was good, but needs more work. Some of the black locust blossom ideas I had came out just nasty, and had to be tossed.

So, back to revisit a dish I actually made last year, but didn't post about. Amelanchier, known locally as service berries, juneberries, shad bush, or saskatoon berries, are a native North American (generally) large bush or small tree. I say generally because there are also European and Asian varieties that have occasionally been planted here. All are edible, but the quality of the fruit varies.

Amelanchiers have very pretty, delicate white blossoms in the early to mid-sping, which lead to them frequently being planted as decoration. You can often find them in urban and suburban areas. My street, and the surrounding streets have them planted regularly between the road and the sidewalk.

In this post from blogger Food Wishes, he uses blueberries in a beurre rouge (red wine and butter sauce) for rack of lamb. This is my version, which I didn't change much--except in the interests of frugality. I used split chicken breast instead of more expensive lamb, and foraged juneberries in place of the blueberries. Also, I really like chicken with dijon sauce, so I increased the amount, making it a true coating--rather than just a kiss.

Cooking meat over fruit helps impart the flavor, as well as add moisture to keep it from drying out. And the roasting brings out a richness in the fruit that really makes the sauce something special--so it's a win-win!

Dijon Chicken with Foraged Juneberry Beurre Rouge

Serves 4 as a main course. 

4 medium-sized, skin-on, split chicken breasts
2 cups of juneberries, or other wild or cultivated berries
4 tbsp. dijon mustard
2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 cup dry, drinkable red wine, I used cabernet sauvignon
1/2 medium red onion or one shallot, sliced thinly
2 tbsp. salted butter
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 350
  2. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large, oven-proof sauté pan, over medium heat. Brown the chicken on all sides, and set aside. 
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the mustard, cinnamon, cumin and thyme. Set aside.
  4. Add the other tbsp of oil, then the onion or shallot, and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. 
  5. Add the berries and reduce the temp to medium-low. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally for about 4 minutes more. 
  6. Deglaze the pan with the red wine, scraping up the bits of chicken fat. Turn off the heat.
  7. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken, and slather with the mustard mixture. Place the chicken, skin side up, on the berry/wine mixture. Place in the pre-heated oven, and roast for about 50 minutes. After checking the chicken for doneness, remove it from the sauté pan and keep covered.
  8. Return the pan with the berry/wine sauce to the burner, on medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is reduced by about 1/3. Taste for salt and pepper, and add as needed. Add the butter, and stir slowly through till it is fully melted.
  9. Serve the sauce with the berries and enjoy right away!
If you don't like the texture of cooked juneberry seeds, you could press on the fruit to remove as much juice as possible, after step 7. Then strain the fruit solids out, and proceed from step 8 onward. 

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