Breast of chicken with cherry-rhubarb chutney & creamed corn and quinoa
I have enjoyed serving and eating chicken with fruit chutney--essentially a savory compote--for years. Kicking off the stone fruit season with this particular combination feels like old hat, but thoroughly satisfying just the same. Make the chutney one or two days ahead, and don't be afraid to flavor it boldly, with vanilla, fennel seeds or allspice, if you like an an aromatic element with your fruit.
The seasons for sweet cherries and corn overlap in the early months of summer, and then, depending on your geographic location, the cherries fade away as sweet corn hits its stride. At that point, try chutneys made with combinations of other stone fruits like apricots, peaches and plums, or a stone fruit with a berry--blackberries and plums make a great duo.
Wanting to bring a new dimension to the creamed corn recipe, I added a few cups of cooked quinoa to the pot spontaneously, while filming a cooking segment for a local television show a few years ago. I was delighted with the addition of the grain, and the way its color and texture complemented the corn. Red quinoa accents the rosy and ruby reds of the fruit, while white quinoa adds something unexpected, blending as it does with the color of the creamed corn. If you're undecided, go with a mix of the two!
This chutney and the creamed corn would also be delicious with a roasted loin of pork.
Makes 4 servings
1 cup quinoa
3 ears white or yellow sweet corn, husked and silk removed
4 chicken breasts, skin on, with or without wing bone
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, finely minced
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
Juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon minced chives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Rhubarb-cherry chutney (recipe below)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
To cook the quinoa, bring a pan with 6 cups of generously salted water to a boil. Add the quinoa, cook for 10 minutes, and strain, shaking as much moisture from the strainer as possible. Set the quinoa aside to cool in a large bowl.
Use a sharp knife to shave the kernels off of the corn cobs. Place the wide, flat top end of the ear on a flat surface and run a small knife down the cob to the pointy end, keeping the knife as close to the cob as possible. Remove the kernels with as much of the corn milk as you can coax out.
Season the chicken breasts with salt. Heat a large ovenproof sauté pan over high heat. Add the olive oil to the pan and continue to heat the pan until the oil is almost smoking. Carefully place the chicken breasts in the pan, skin side down. After a minute, check to see if the skin is sticking before transferring the pan to the oven to finish cooking, about 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, remove the pan, checking the temperature of the chicken with a thermometer if you like; it should register 160 degrees F. Set the pan aside for 5 to 10 minutes, for the chicken to rest.
While the chicken is in the oven, gently heat the shallots in a sauté pan with 1/4 cup water until the shallots have softened and the water has evaporated. Add the corn with a pinch of salt and cook and stir, being careful not to brown the corn, about 3 minutes.
Add the cream, bring to a simmer and reduce the heat. Continue to cook until the cream thickens and the corn softens, then add the cooked quinoa and lemon juice. Season to taste, adding more salt, if needed, black pepper and chives. Stir everything one more time to heat through and combine, and remove from the heat.
To serve, spoon some creamed corn onto each plate and place a chicken breast on top. Spoon the chutney over the chicken and serve immediately.
Rhubarb cherry compote
1 cup red wine
1/4 cup honey
Juice and zest of one orange
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large stalks rhubarb, trimmed and cut in 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups cherries, stemmed, pitted and cut in half
In a medium size nonreactive sauce pan, simmer the red wine with the honey, orange zest and juice, cinnamon stick and salt. When the mixture is reduced by one half, add the cherries and simmer 10 minutes. Add the rhubarb, cook 3 minutes more and remove the pan from the heat. Allow the chutney to cool to room temperature in the pan, until you're ready to use or, or refrigerate after cooling. Taste the chutney to make sure it's got enough sweetness and acidity before serving, and be certain to warm it slightly or let it come to room temperature if you've made it ahead of time.