First of all, let's just quit kidding ourselves. "Dried Plums" are nothing more than PRUNES. And the word "prune" is not exactly...sexy, is it? I mean, would you really want to make a dish called "Chicken with Prunes"? I doubt it. Prunes make me think of nursing homes. Prunes make you regular. When you sit in the bathtub too long you get pruney. These are not exactly pleasant images. And yet, I really like prunes. Sorry. Dried plums. They're sweet, they're sort of sticky and I really love the texture - kind of like a really big, plump raisin. If you haven't ever cooked with them, do give it a try.
This recipe is adapted from one I found on the website for a local healthfood market called Erewhon and despite the fact that one might consider it to be healthy, it's also extrordinarily delicious.
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (I used only two)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried plums
1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh Thyme leaves, minced
In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat until hot. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place chicken in skillet; cook for 5 minutes minutes or until browned. Place skillet in the oven and cook the chicken for 10 to 12 more minutes until no longer pink and the juices run clear when pricked with the tip of a knife. Transfer to serving platter and cover with foil to keep warm.
Return the skillet to the stove top and turn the heat on to medium. Add shallots and garlic to same skillet; cook and stir 3-5 minutes or until softened. Stir in broth, dried plums, vinegar, Thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and any juices that have accumulated from the chicken; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat slightly; cook until sauce is reduced by half, about 1 cup. Return the chicken to the pan and turn to coat with the sauce.
The balsamic vinegar, dried plums, and chicken stock cook down to create a fantasic syrupy sauce. Tangy, garlicky, and sweet, yet at the same time woodsy thanks to the fresh thyme, it's almost like a thick, dark bar-b-que sauce. It's great with the chicken but I'm sure it would be delicious with pork chops as well. I'm sure you could also substitute rosemary for the thyme, with pleasing results. It's a very easy, quick meal, perfect for a weeknight. I threw it together in between gathering my clothes and going to the laundromat and as such I did not make any side dishes to go along with it. Although I think that when I make it again I would serve it with something like mashed sweet potatoes or maybe a corn pudding and some steamed green beans or grilled asparagus.