Roasted Chicken with Stone Fruits and Red Onion

This recipe was originally created by Melissa Clark, for the New York Times. It is a sheet-pan dinner of roast chicken, plums and red onions. She came up with it as a dish appropriate to Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, which begins on September 18, 2020 but it’s outstanding meal that can grace any table for a great family style meal.

This sticky, bright-flavored joyful meal is beautiful to behold and easy to make. This sheet-pan dinner combines sweet plums and soft red onions with crisp-skinned pieces of roasted chicken. Toasted fennel seeds, red-pepper flakes and a touch of allspice add complexity while a mound of fresh torn herbs crowns the top. If good ripe plums aren’t available, you can substitute another stone fruit including cherries, peaches, nectarines or pluots, though if your fruit is very sweet, you might want to add a squeeze of lemon at the end. Serve this dish with rice pilaf, couscous, polenta or warm flatbread for a festive meal.

Recipe Adapted from

Melissa Clark

New York Times Cooking September 2020

 

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons fennel seeds 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon grated lemon or orange zest

4 garlic cloves, finely grated

2 teaspoons honey

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

A very large pinch crushed red-pepper flakes, or to taste

One whole 3 1/2 pound chicken, cut into parts

Kosher salt, to taste

Ground black pepper, to taste

2 cups ripe, soft plums, pitted and cut into 3/4-inch thick slices

1/2 cup cherries, pitted and halved

1/2 cup nectarines, pitted and cut into 3/4-inch thick slices

6 fresh thyme sprigs

1 medium red onion, peeled and sliced from root to stem in 1/2-inch wedges

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

⅔ cup torn mint, basil or cilantro leaves (or a combination), for garnish

Maldon salt flakes, for garnish

 

Directions:

Toast the fennel seeds in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Pour seeds into a mortar and pound with a pestle until coarsely crushed (or lay seeds on a cutting board and pound them with a can or jar).

Put the seeds into a large bowl and stir in lemon juice, zest, garlic, honey, allspice and red-pepper flakes. Season chicken generously all over with salt and pepper and add to the bowl, turning the pieces to coat them with marinade.

Mix in plums and thyme sprigs. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.

When ready to cook, heat the oven to 425 º F. Put the chicken pieces, fruit and thyme sprigs on a rimmed baking pan. Add onions, spreading them out around the chicken and plums. Season plums and onions lightly with salt.

Drizzle everything with olive oil. Roast until chicken is golden and cooked through, 30 to 45 minutes, removing the white meat if it’s done before the dark meat.

To serve, transfer chicken pieces as they are done to a platter. Spoon the plums and onions around the chicken. Drizzle a little of the pan drippings over the chicken and serve, garnished with the herbs and flaky Maldon salt.

 

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Grilled Pork Chops with Balsamic Cherries

IMG_3116 pork chop

As the Summer of 2020 is quickly drawing to a close, I know that many of us probably have hit “the cooking wall” during the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic and it’s okay. We have to remind ourselves that everything does not have to perfect, as we are all looking for easier ways to prepare meals and break through the doldrums of being at home.

The one comfort I do find in my every day life can be found in my kitchen. Cooking has always served as my therapy in one form of another. With a little imagination, there is endless combination of proteins and produce that can grace your table. And if you like to eat seasonally, summer fruits like cherries, peaches and melon can take center stage in sweet and savory dishes.

This recipe is easy and only takes five ingredients and takes advantage of common pantry items like balsamic vinegar and olive oil. You can use bone in or boneless pork chops. I prefer bone in chops as they are less likely to dry out on the grill. Pork goes well with just about any type of fruit. Feel free to mix it up a little by using peaches, apples, blueberries, black berries or even strawberries, if you like.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups of fresh cherries, pitted and cut in halves
4 bones pork chops
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2-3 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Preheat an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan to medium heat.

In a small bowl, add the balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Ass the cherries and toss to coat. Allow the cherries to stand at room temperature and marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Pat the pork chops dry with clean paper towels. Brush the pork chops all over with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season both sides with salt and pepper, to taste.

Place the pork chops on the grill and cook 3 to 4 minutes per side, until thoroughly cooked. Using an instant read thermometer inserted into each pork chop, the temperature of the meat should be 145 °F. If you are using bone-in pork chops, cook them for 6-8 minutes per side or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chop registers 145º F, as well.

Using tongs, remove the chops from the grill and place on serving platter, allowing them to rest for at least 5 minutes.

To serve, spoon the cherry mixture over the pork chops and garnish with parsley.

Cook’s Notes:
Fresh bing cherries were used for this recipe, but any variety of sweet cherry will also work in this dish. I find that a little bit of sweetness goes particularly well with pork dishes.

If you are only able to find sour cherries, it is recommended that you add one teaspoon of sugar to the sauce as it reduces. This dish tastes great with either fresh or frozen cherries, so use fresh if they are in season and if you are still craving this dish in the dead of winter, it is perfectly fine to use frozen cherries.

If you do not have any parsley on hand, herbs like thyme,rosemary or tarragon would work beautifully in this dish.

Also, you can substitute the pork with chicken thighs or boneless chicken breasts.

Alternatively, you can dredge the pork chops in seasoned flour and shallow pan fry until golden brown.

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Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Balsamic Roasted Strawberries

IMG_0032 2

 

For me, one of the fun things about cooking is thinking outside of box and combining flavors to create a wholesome yet interesting  dish. Sometimes, you get to combine ingredients and flavors that don’t seem like they should go together. Yes, of course, this  can sound a bit strange, like dill pickles and maple syrup. But let’s consider meat and fruit. You might recall some classic dishes, such as turkey with cranberry sauce, lemon pepper chicken, and more. These familiar meat and fruit pairings are delicious, yet the idea of using both fruit and meal in the same dish is undoubtedly a little controversial. You might know that someone who cannot forgive the crime of putting pineapples and ham on pizza.

However, let’s not worry about that….for now.

Intuitively, there are some meat and fruit combinations that  you might not consider  to be perfect flavor companions, but you will find that their sweet and salty relationship does work: fruit adds a sweetness or even tartness to the salty meat. The main challenge with fruit and meat is finding the right combinations. When the right types of fruit and meat are paired with each other, this extra contrasting dimension enhances the flavor and appeal of the dish.

So that brings us full circle back around to pork and strawberries.

Pork comes in many forms and when paired with fruit, the combinations are endless.Traditionally, pork pairs well with fruits like apples, apricots, cranberries, currants, dried cherries, dried figs, mangoes, oranges, peaches, pears, pineapple, plums,  and even quice. But  very few people will intutively think  of  strawberries being paired with pork. The technique of roasting brings out the sweetness in strawberries, making them a delicious accompaniment to spice-rubbed, pan-seared pork chops.This unusual  combination will not only impress yourself  but your family as well.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the Strawberries:
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved widthwise
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste

For the Pork Chops:
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
¼ tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
Four  1 ½ – 2 pounds bone-in center cut pork chops
¼ cup fresh mint leaves, for garnish

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment. On prepared pan, toss the strawberries with the shallots, brown sugar, and oil. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Roast 10–12 minutes, until strawberries are soft.

Season on both sides of the pork chops  with salt . To  a small bowl, add  the cumin, coriander, and cayenne. Mix to combine. Rub the seasoning all over the pork chops. Make sure to wash your hands. 

In a large cast iron skillet, add the oil and heat on medium high until the oil is shimmering. Add the pork chops to the skillet and cook 5 minutes per side, until cooked through. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.

To serve, arrange the pork chops on a platter and ladle the roasted strawberries on top of the chops. Garnish with the mint and enjoy.

 

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