The head chef at Savor Culinary is always opening my eyes to new culinary ideas. A few weeks ago I made Chicken a la Vendemmia. La vendemmia translates to ‘harvest’ or ‘vintage’. In this dish, la vendemmia refers to the grape juice used to make the delicious sauce that accompanies the chicken. I added figs to the recipe at the end of cooking just until they were heated through. If you love figs, add them. If not, leave them out. The dish will be just as good without them, well almost as good (I am a lover of all things figgy). Follow along if you’d like to try this in your kitchen. *Photographer’s note: The grapes pictured were for photography purposes only. So do not feel the need to add them. The grape juice is where it’s at!
2 lbs. of red, seedless grapes
4 chicken breasts, boneless/skinless (or bone-in/skin on, if you prefer)
kosher salt and black pepper
2 teaspoons of fennel spice, recipe follows
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup of thinly sliced shallot
2 springs of fresh rosemary + 2 teaspoons minced for garnish
1/2 cup chicken stock, homemade or canned
12 small or 6 large figs, stems removed & sliced in half
Puree the grapes in a blender and then strain using a fine mesh strainer. Press on the solids to extract as much juice as possible. You should have 2 1/2 cups of juice. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season chicken all over with salt, pepper and fennel spice (see recipe and method below). Heat a large ovenproof skillet over moderately high heat. When the skillet is hot, add olive oil. Add chicken breast and brown well on all sides. This will take about 7-8 minutes total. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook until the chicken is cooked through. About 12-15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the cooking fat.
Add shallots to the hot pan and return to moderate heat on stove top. Watch the handle, it’s hot from the oven! Cook shallots until soft. Add the rosemary springs and cook for a few minutes to release their fragrance. Add the grape juice and simmer briskly until reduced by about half. Add the chicken stock and any collected juices from the chicken platter. Simmer until the sauce has reduced a bit and has a creamy consistency. Add the figs and allow to simmer for a few more minutes until they are heated through.
Place chicken back into the pan and simmer for a few more minutes. Garnish with minced rosemary and serve from the pan, like I like to do in my house. Or, if you are trying to make a good impression, place your chicken on a serving platter and pour the sauce over the top, letting the figs fall where they may. Small clusters of fresh grapes and fresh rosemary springs placed here and there on the platter would make it even prettier.
1 cup fennel seed
3 tablespoons coriander seed
2 tablespoons white peppercorns
3 tablespoons kosher salt
Heat a small pan over medium heat. Add fennel, coriander and white peppercorns. Toss frequently to get an even toast. Watch them carefully as they will burn easily. Toss them until they are lightly browned and fragrant. Pour onto a plate and let cool. Pour cooled seeds into a blender or grinder (my bullet works great for this) adding salt to the mix. Blend until the mix is a powder. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
Sides are super important to me. I get stumped often when it comes to what to serve with my main entree. Below are two sides that I served with the chicken a la vendemmia. They were simple, easy to make, good for me & my family and most importantly, they were delicious.
- Balsamic Marinated Asparagus and Tomatoes, topped with Feta Cheese
- Quinoa tossed in olive oil