19 August 2007

White Peach Chicken Delice

Question: What do you do with sub-par white peaches? I got three for a buck from the fruit cart across the street. They were half hard, half mushy, basically not worth a damn. I'm not going to cry over a dollar. A couple days ago, the guy sold me the best mango I'd ever had. Ever. And that was a buck, so I figured he had some leeway.

The peaches were not good hand-fruit, but did have that perfumed white peach flavor to them, even if they didn't have the texture or the sugar to make them shine. I'd made a delice sauce (1 cup bechamel, 2 tbsp ketchup, 1 tsp cider vinegar, pinch curry powder) to put over some leftover poached red snapper from the house rewarming party, so decided to just use the leftovers of the sauce as a venue for the peaches. I cut away everything that wasn't firm, peeled, pitted and chopped the three fruits. Then I threw them in, with a teaspoon of apricot jam, a good shot of fresh-ground white pepper, and a dash more cider vinegar to punch up the flavor. The taste was rich and round and yet perfumed. Fruity chicken dishes are not really in vogue right now, but I figured it would be the perfect accompaniment to some poached chicken breast.

I'm amazed at how overlooked poached chicken breast is. It's always grilled or sauteed, both methods which dry it out terribly. Since it's basically just lean protein that's going to be the vehicle for other flavors, I just don't understand why people feel the need to subject this delicate meat to such harsh temperatures. I used Jacques Pepin's technique. Boil water, salt, and aromatics for about five minutes, then throw in the chicken breast, return to boil, take off heat, cover and leave for 15 minutes. In this case, the cupboard was a bit bare, so I just used white peppercorns and bay leaves.

I sliced the chicken, topped with sauce, and there ya go! The peaches had softened and given the sauce a wonderful flavor and texture. I good lunch for almost no effort.

It's good to be back in my own kitchen. It's also kinda fun to restock the fridge slowly, one meal at a time.

White Peach Delice Sauce

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 cup milk (warmed in microwave)
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or any vinegar, balsamic included)
1 tsp apricot jam
1/2 tsp curry powder
2-3 white peaches (under-ripe is okay), peeled, pitted and diced
salt and white pepper to taste

1.) Melt butter in a skillet until foam subsides, then add flour and stir until lightly browned.

2.) Whisk in warm milk and bring to simmer. Add all other ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes.

Serve warm over poached chicken breast, or chilled over chilled poached chicken breast.

1 comment:

Lisa T. said...

I picked about 500 peaches on Friday from a tree my boss has in her yard, which had split from the weight of the fruit. They were cutting it down, so this was a rescue mission. I froze 6 quarts so far, and the rest are currently ripening on the kitchen table. I'm going to freeze them all, then when I have the time I'll make jam and chutney. But right now the garden is going nuts, so pretty much every day I've got something to clean, process and store for the winter!