December 16, 2010

Quick and Easy Chicken with Blackberry Preserve Sauce

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From the time summer ends, I usually feel like I spend my time racing from one thing to another, whether it be a school function for one of my children, or family obligations or back to the store because we’re out of milk yet again. It only gets worse as the holidays approach, and it doesn’t let up until January. Most people hate the cold, dark months after Christmas and New Years, but I actually look forward to them because they give me a much needed break after the frenzy of fall.I cook for my family of four most nights. It’s cheaper, healthier and faster than going out or getting takeout, plus I truly enjoy cooking. But at this time of year, with all our parties and school plays and shopping and such, getting that meal on the table gets just a tad harder. So the ideal meal for me has to be fast, easy and healthy, but most importantly, it has to taste good. That’s not too much to ask for, right?
My children are four and six and have very basic tastes, so my meals tend to be simple, but there are only so many ways you can cook chicken before it gets boring. For a change, I decided to make a chicken dish with a fruit sauce. I adapted a recipe for Blackberry Chicken from Taste of Home. Below is my version.
Chicken with Blackberry Preserve Sauce
1/2 cup Shop Rite Blackberry Preserves, divided
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth, divided
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon paprika, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts or tenderloins
1 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons cornstarch

In a bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup preserves, broth, brown sugar, vinegar, oil, garlic, 1/4 tsp paprika and cumin.
Place chicken in a baking pan coated with cooking spray and pour the preserves mixture over top. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, thyme and remaining paprika. Bake uncovered at 375 for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
Put chicken aside and keep warm. Pour the pan drippings into a small saucepan and add cornstarch. Stir to combine, then add remaining broth and preserves. Bring to a boil and stir until thickened. Serve with chicken.
The preserve mixture will thicken and darken as it cooks, so keep an eye on it. If it starts to burn, cover the dish with foil until the chicken is cooked through. You won’t have much left over once the baking is done, but the pan drippings are so flavorful, they go a long way towards making the final sauce. I served this dish with couscous, steamed edamame and salad. The chicken was moist and flavorful and the sweetness of the preserves nicely balanced the savory aspect of the chicken drippings. This meal required very little hands on time, was simple to prepare and was ready in under thirty minutes, yet was fancy enough for company. Best of all, my husband and both kids declared it a “make again meal.”
Don’t have blackberry preserves? This recipe would work just as well with blueberry, grape, peach or raspberry.

Blackberry Chicken