24 Sep Moroccan-Inspired Nectarine and Plum Chicken
A few weeks ago, I attempted a homemade mixed-fruit ketchup. But I was so busy “multitasking” I missed the small but crucial word “EACH” in the ingredient list. Instead of adding 2 cups EACH of peaches, apples, pears and plums, I used 2 cups peaches.
Sensing something was wrong, I reread the recipe more carefully and realized my mistake — too late. With only peaches on hand, I attempted to salvage the batch by upping the peach quota to cover the missing apples, pears and plums. No big deal. Fruit is fruit, right?
Not when it comes to preserves. Without the high-pectin apples and plums to provide body, the low-pectin peaches didn’t stand a chance. The resulting “ketchup” was thin as tomato juice. Heinz has nothing to worry about from me.
So for two weeks, seven jars of sloppy, fruit-flavoured ketchup sat on my dining room table as I debated their fate. I couldn’t give them away. And using the runny contents on burgers was out of the question. What didn’t slide off the meat would turn the bun to mush.
But the other night, when I was stuck for what to make for dinner, Andrew suggested I pour my failed ketchup over chicken. Chicken. The mediocre solution to every culinary quandary.
As I considered his idea, I saw the nectarines and plums sitting on the counter. Hmm… Moroccan cooking often uses prunes, which are just dried plums. Add a bit of cumin, cinnamon and …?
And it was the best chicken I’ve made in ages. THE BEST. Nothing mediocre about it. And all because I botched the ketchup.
I was so pleased with the results, I tarted up the photo shoot. Don’t for a minute think I served dinner with fresh plums nestled between chicken pieces. Nor did fresh-faced nectarines cheer from the sidelines. Nope, these fancy shots are pure eye candy.
While I can’t guarantee the results, I’m providing the recipe for inspirational rather than instructional purposes. There’s no sense in crying over runny preserves. Not if there’s chicken nearby.
Have you had any serendipitous dishes you wish to share? Any potential disasters turned positively delicious? Speak up. I’d love to hear it.
- 6 large chicken thighs, bone-in (or 12 small)
- 2 medium nectarines, chopped
- 6 medium plums, chopped
- 2 medium onions, sliced
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 cups tomato and peach ketchup or other tangy fruit sauce (NOT commercial ketchup)
- 1 generous handful fresh chopped cilantro leaves
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a large, heavy skillet over medium heat, sauté chicken thighs in their own fat. Brown for about 5 minutes a side until golden. Transfer the chicken pieces in a roasting pan and sprinkle evenly with with nectarines and plums.
- Using the same skillet you cooked the chicken in, sauté the onions in the chicken fat for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for 2 more minutes. Add the cinnamon, coriander, cumin, turmeric and lemon juice. Cook 2 more minutes or until onions are very soft.
- Spoon the seasoned onions evenly over the chicken pieces. Pour the homemade fruit ketchup or sauce over the entire dish.
- Bake uncovered for 30 to 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked all the way through.
- Serve hot on a bed of rice, couscous or quinoa and sprinkled generously with cilantro.