this is one of those recipes that started off as one idea and then took off in another direction. what was originally just going to be chicken with roasted grapes and maybe a little bit of pan sauce turned into chicken with angel hair, no, wait, i can’t manage long pasta, let’s do rice instead, that’s basically the opposite of long and unruly pasta. oh! and gorgonzola might be good in there! and garlic is always a welcome addition! and some greens – how about peppery arugula to contrast the sweet roasted grapes?!
so, yeah, that’s how it happened. now you know all the secrets about my extremely rigorous recipe development process.
well, actually, the best part is where the whole idea came from in the very first place: the quarterly newsletter magazine that our health insurance company sends us.
that’s right, i scour nothing but the finest gourmet publications in a never-ending quest to find the very best recipes to inspire the recipes i feature here. oooooor good ideas can come from anywhere, including a little health insurance promotional magazine (perhaps yet one more reason to hope we don’t lose access to health insurance… ahem).
fortunately, this recipe knew that my patience for testing a recipe that included chicken would wear thin faster than, say, my patience for finding the perfect yellow cake with chocolate frosting. accordingly, the universe rewarded me with an idea that translated into a successful recipe on my first try.
that said, i did manage to find a way to streamline the recipe between the first trial and the photographed version. originally i was cooking the chicken on the stove top (aka making another thing that doesn’t go in the dishwasher dirty) so on the next round, i got smarter and put the chicken in with the grapes.
you have to remove the chicken from the pan and let the grapes keep cooking, but it’s a trade i’m totally willing to make. especially for a recipe that looks and tastes fancy and impressive but is secretly very straightforward, even if the path to get to the final recipe idea was anything but straightforward.
- 1 lb. (16 oz. / 454 g.) boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed and pounded to ½” (2.5 cm) thick
- ¼ cup (1 oz. / 30 g.) all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, divided, see notes
- 2 cups seedless red grapes
- 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ cup (3 ½ oz. / 99 g.) rice (i like long grain brown rice)
- 1 cup (8 fl. oz. / 237 ml) water
- ½ oz. (2 tablespoons / 14 g.) crumbled gorgonzola cheese
- large handful of baby arugula
- preheat the oven to 400° F. combine the flour and 1 tablespoon of the fresh thyme in a shallow bowl. dredge both sides of the chicken in the flour mixture and place in the center of an 8” x 8” (20 cm x 20 cm) glass baking dish. combine the grapes with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil and the remaining tablespoon of fresh thyme. spread the grapes around the chicken in the dish and bake until the chicken registers 165° F on a thermometer, about 20 minutes. once the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the baking dish and set on a cutting board to rest and cool slightly. put the grapes back in the oven and continue roasting until they are slumpy (see photos), about 35 minutes total (so about 15 more minutes after the chicken comes out).
- while the chicken and grapes are roasting, put the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a medium sized, heavy bottom pot and heat over medium heat. when shimmering, add the garlic and sauté, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds or until fragrant and just barely beginning to turn golden. add the rice, stir to coat in the oil and garlic, add the water, and then follow the rice package directions regarding cook time.
- as soon as the rice is done, when you take the lid off to fluff it, immediately add the gorgonzola cheese and stir to combine. add the handful of baby arugula and stir that in (the arugula will wilt). put the lid back on the pot and keep warm until the grapes are ready.
- slice the chicken into thin strips. to serve, make a bed of rice in the center of a plate or shallow bowl, then add the chicken strips on top, then finally put the roasted grapes on top of the chicken. serve immediately.
the easiest way to remove the thyme leaves from the woody stem is to pinch the top of a dry stem at the top between your thumb and forefingers on one hand and then pinch the stem between the thumb and forefingers on your other hand and drag it down the stem, against the direction the leaves grow. collect all the tiny leaves in a fine mesh strainer and rinse them after you’ve removed them from the stem. if you wash the thyme first and try to remove wet leaves from the stem, they will all stick to your fingers and you will wonder how important it really is to rinse the thyme before you use it. or, you know, so i’ve heard…
leftovers tip: depending on how excited you are about the grapes, you may end up with a little bit of leftover roasted grapes. i put our leftover grapes in a little airtight container in the refrigerator then tossed them into some quick cooking oatmeal for a surprisingly tasty semi-savory breakfast. it doesn’t taste as weird as it sounds, despite the thyme. a subsequent set of leftover roasted grapes went into some plain greek yogurt for afternoon snack but i liked the oatmeal version better.
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