May 1, 2005
Chicken With Cherry-Wine Sauce
This is a recipe I’ve made time and again not only because it’s easy, healthy, and impressive enough for guests, but because it showcases two of Washington state’s finest products–Washington wine and Bing cherries grown and processed in the Yakima Valley. It comes from Pamela Auld, co-owner of Chukar Cherry Company (www.chukar.com), which has a permanent stand in the Pike Place Market’s Main Arcade.
1 to 2 cups white, brown, or wild rice
1 bottle (750 milliliter) good-quality red wine (Washington state Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon recommended)
1 cup Chukar dried Bing cherries
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Pinch of granulated sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
Dried rosemary, crumbled
Cook rice as directed on package. (Cook 1 or 2 cups depending on whether you want to serve 1/2-cup or 1-cup servings.)
While rice is cooking, pour wine into large nonreactive saucepan and add dried cherries. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer cherry-wine mixture about 15 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by half and cherries lose their wrinkles and plump.
While cherries and wine are simmering, sauté chicken pieces in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat, using a minimum of olive oil. Chicken pieces should be white and completely cooked throughout, but still tender.
When cherry-wine mixture is reduced by half, remove it from the heat, add butter and sugar, and swirl until blended.
To serve, place chicken pieces on top of cooked rice and pour cherry-wine sauce over the top. Vegetarian eaters can enjoy this dish, too, if the sauce alone (no chicken) is served over the rice along with steamed or sautéed vegetables. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and rosemary (you can do this in the kitchen, or your family or guests can do it themselves at the table).
Serves 6 to 8
Cook’s Hint: Pam Auld suggests that to vary the aroma and flavor of this dish, add a small amount of fresh rosemary (in place of the dried) and white pepper (instead of black) to the finished dish.