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Thursday Gourmet: Chicken With Wine, Onions and Grapes

16 July, 2009

My freezer is chock full of chicken.  Well, not chock full, but there are at least five packages of chicken breast fillets in there.  What to do, what to do, what to do?

Here’s one possibility (which I have cooked a couple of times (with a few variations)):

Chicken With Wine, Onions and Grapes

Yes, you read that right:  Chicken with Wine and Grapes.  It is an odd combination of ingredients, but it melds nicely.

1 cup fresh basil, minced finely
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 Tbsp pignoli
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Pan roast the pignoli nuts until they just begin to turn a darker tan.  Don’t let them get too dark or they will taste a little ‘off.’  In a bowl, mash the pignoli into a paste with the back of a fork.  Add the basil, garlic and olive oil and mix well.

4 chicken breasts, with bones, skin removed
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet (I use a Calphalon paella pan) until the oil runs freely.  Don’t let it smoke.  Smoking is bad.  Brown the chicken breasts on the three fleshy sides (rack them against each other in the pan to get the sides).  Remove from the pan and set aside (use a plate or your significant other will not be happy (trust me on this one)).

2 white or yellow onions, topped, skinned and sliced into thin rounds
3 cups white grapes, halved (and seeded if necessary)
2 cups pinot noir (or other light fruity and complex wine)
1 tsp freshly cracked black malabar pepper
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan Reggiano

Saute the onions in the skillet for a few minutes, just until they start to turn translucent).  Place the chicken in the pan bone-side down.  Add the wine, bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low.  Cover the pan and cook for about 40 minutes.  Uncover, increase the heat, and reduce the wine until almost gone.  Add the grapes and the basil semi-pesto.  Mix the sauce well.

Serve on warmed plates, sprinkling the pepper and cheese over each breast, with some crusty bread and a field green salad.

One of the nice things about this dish is that it is easy to make, it looks elegant as all get out, and doesn’t require a whole lot of attended cooking.  I have also done it with red grapes, chianti and a red pepper pesto.  Good, but I prefer the lighter version here.

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