Saturday, February 20, 2010
Italians are accustomed to turning to the land for culinary inspiration. For every cook who stops by a supermarket to pick up a roast of beef or some chicken breasts, several more will return from the woods with rabbits, ducks or even wild boar for dinner.
Hunting is an age old tradition in Italy, but one that is still embraced to this day in hundreds of little hilltowns and villages. When in Tuscany on holiday, we'll go out of our way to find roasted duck or rabbit on the menu.
Just north of Rhadda is one of our favorite places for wine tasting, Castello di Volpaia. Tour the winery,taste the superb wines and then enjoy a delicious dinner at the winery's excellent ristorante, La Bottega Their pastas are simply delicious, and the cinghiale, wild boar, is the best we have ever had. It's clearly easy to see why their hunter's style dinners are so popular on their menu. Real Italian fare to celebrate life and the bounty of land.
Back at home I'm often experimenting with new recipes in my kitchen, and as we eat a lot of chicken or turkey this was one of my efforts to replicate a marvelous duck dish with the lightest plum sauce I had the last time we visited La Bottega. I subbed in last of the fresh picked blueberries I had in the freezer along with some organic boneless chicken breasts in place of the duck breast. Though I have made this both ways now, I am sort of torn to which I prefer, the duck or chicken. So if you have an appreciation for game meats, do try this recipe. It's a breeze to prepare and even better, it's a heart healthy recipe too!
Blueberry Port Chicken Breast
1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice- I used POM
4 organic boneless chicken breasts
sea salt & ground pepper
2 lemons, sliced
dried rosemary, thyme, parsley
10 shallots, minced
8 oz fresh blueberries
1 cup Port wine
3 TBLS lemon juice
Rinse and pat dry chicken breasts and place in a resealable bag and add pomegranate juice. Push out all excess air, seal and refrigerate overnight or aty least six hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove chicken breasts from the marinade and sprinkle with sea salt & ground pepper.Reserve leftover marinade liquid. Place the lemon slices on top and a sprinkle of dried rosemary, thyme and parsley.Drizzle 2 tsp olive oil over chicken pieces and bake 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees and bake another 25 minutes. Remove the chicken breasts from oven and keep warm.
Transfer 3-4 TBLS of pan drippings to a saute pan and saute shallots until lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes. Add the blueberries, remaining pomegranate marinade and Port wine. Bring to a light boil and cook for another 4 minutes to reduce liquids slightly. Stir in the lemon juice, mashing some of the blueberries.
To serve, spoon a large ladle of the blueberry sauce onto a warm serving plate. Thinly slice the chicken or duck breasts and place on top of the sauce. Top with remaining sauce and serve. Enjoy!