About halfway through my 2 quart basket of blueberries I decided that any true exploration of the ingredient required exploring its use in savory dishes as well as sweet baked ones. I looked to chicken for this.
Americans have been pairing poultry with berries since the Civil War when General Grant served cranberry sauce to his soldiers along with turkey for their Thanksgiving dinner. Like the cranberry, blueberries are native to North America, making Chicken and Blueberry Sauce a close cousin of our Thanksgiving favorite. The blueberries bring a subtle sweetness to the dish which is countered with the slight bite of red onion and blasamic vinegar.
Start with the chicken thighs. Dust them in a seasoned flour and brown them in heavy pan before finishing them in the oven.
Keep the temperature of the olive oil and butter at a solid medium high so that the butter doesn’t burn. Put the chicken pieces in the fat when it starts to “sing” in the pan. If the chicken sticks when you go to turn it, back off! When it is properly browned the pan will let it go. Brown them in batches to give them room to cook properly. Once they are browned on both sides, remove them to a roasting pan and place them in the oven to finsh cooking for 30-40 minutes while you finish the sauce.
Pour off all but a thin film of oil in the pan, turn the temperature down to medium low and add the diced red onion. Stir them around to coat them in the oil and let them cook on low until they are softened and opaque.
When the onions are cooked, add all the other ingredients and bring it to a low boil, scrapping the yummy browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Once it comes to a boil, let it simmer for two minutes to bring the flavors together. Just before you are ready to serve the sauce toss in a handful of fresh blueberries and give them a stir to coat them and warm them slightly.
Served with rice and a green salad, it is an easy chicken dinner filled with the flavors of summer.
SAUTEED CHICKEN WITH FRESH BLUEBERRY SAUCE
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 4 chicken thighs
- 2 tbsp flour
- ½ tsp each salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp diced red onion
- 1 c fresh blueberries plus ¼ cup
- ¼ c balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp honey
- ½ tbsp finely chopped rosemary
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Stir the salt and pepper into the flour until mixed. Toss the chicken in the flour mixture.
- Put the olive oil and butter in medium sauté pan and heat it over medium heat until the butter is melting and slightly sizzling (“singing”). Add the chicken thighs skin side down and cook for 3-4 minutes until the skin is browned and the chicken pieces easily release from the pan. Turn the thighs and repeat on the other side. Do this in batches if needed.
- Once the chicken is browned, put it in an oven-proof pan and place it in the preheated oven to finish cooking for 30-40 minutes while you make the sauce.
- Pour all but a thin film of oil from the pan and return it to medium-low heat. Add the diced onion and cook, stirring occasionally until it is softened and opaque.
- Add ½ cup of blueberries, the vinegar, honey and rosemary to the onions in the pan and bring to a low boil, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan to release the browned chicken bits. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes until slightly thickened.
- Taste and add salt if needed. Just before serving stir in ¼ cup fresh blueberries
- Serve the chicken over rice and top with the sauce.