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Archive for May 30th, 2012

Summer Kickoff Recipe

Is there any greater harbinger of summer than that first appearance of fresh peaches? Good peaches—juice bursting beneath the fragile velvety skin, vine-ripened, sun-warmed and fragrant?

Where I come from, I’d wager than the answer is no.

Do I dare?

I squealed with glee (no, not inwardly) when I noticed peaches at the fruit stands  this weekend! I immediately purchased three of them (3/$1 love those vendors) and enjoyed one practically on the spot.

I originally intended to simply eat them as ambrosial snacks, but then I noticed this recipe for Basil-Peach Chicken in the May edition of Southern Living…

Sold like a pig at auction!

Basil-Peach Chicken Breasts

  • 4 skinned and boned chicken breasts (about 2 lb.) (I used three large)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger (I used 1/4 tsp ground)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 12 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium fat-free chicken broth (I used 3/4 c to compensate for my missing breast!)
  • 4 large peaches, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 2 cups)
  • Garnish: fresh basil leaves

Instructions:

First, preheat the oven to 350° and set up your mise-en-place!

My mama taught me a trick for chopping basil that I put to use in this recipe. Simply stack your basil leaves on top of each other and roll the leaves length-wise like you’re rolling up a tortilla.

Holding the tail end with one hand, used the other hand to slice up the roll! Not only does it speed up the process, but it creates lovely basil ribbons :).

Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Cook chicken in hot oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat 2 minutes on each side or until browned.

Remove chicken from skillet, reserving drippings in skillet.  Reduce heat to medium. Add shallot to hot drippings in skillet, and sauté 3 minutes or until tender. Add ginger and garlic; sauté 45 to 60 seconds or until fragrant. Add basil, chicken broth, and peaches.

Return chicken to skillet, and turn to coat. I transferred the mixture to a Pyrex baking dish because I’m not sure if my skillet is oven-proof!  Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes or until chicken is done.

Hold yourself steady while the scent tries to knock you sideways.

Truly—the fragrance of warm muddled peaches and basil is other-worldly! I made sure to pair every bite of moist chicken with a bit of each.

I paired the dish with whole wheat pasta and sauteed spinach. Couscous or brown rice would also be fabulous.

This recipe is the perfect meal to kick of summer and honor one of it’s most glorious edible achievements.

If you give it a try, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did (and will continue to do this week!)

Welcome, summer! You’ve been sorely missed 🙂

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