Chicken with Spicy Lemon Date Sauce
Here's a yummy one for you, folks.
To prove it, let me tell you the story of the picky eater who lives at my house.
This picky eater prefers food composed mainly of wheat and cheese. He lives on a careful diet of quesadillas, hot dogs, and boxed pasta, supplemented with Grape Nuts and potato chips.
He has a distrust of fruit, vegetables, and all slippery food (mushrooms! olives!).
He is patient with my experiments, but unsparing in his dinner decisions (or at least I think he's unsparing...what could he be sparing, over there?).
There isn't any wheat or cheese in this dish.
It's composed of a strange fruit, DRIED, plus sour fruits and chili peppers. The latter would ordinarily receive approval, but when coupled with a sweet and sour mix? We are less certain.
As the pot with these ingredients bubbled merrily away, breaking them down, this picky person came sniffing around many times, trying to figure out just what was going on and what it had to do with him.
The bare chicken frying in the pan, he approved.
When I dumped the polenta from its wrapper, and it held its tubby shape, well. The jury was out on that one.
Finally at the end, when it all came together (chicken, date sauce, polenta) and got layered onto a plate, it was nudged thoroughly with a fork. And finally tasted.
Bam. It was a win.
The next day it was even more of a win, as the flavors blended together even more overnight. Long story short, I had to fight for my share of the leftovers.
The moral of this story? Don't be scared of dates! And lemons! And chili peppers. All mixed up together. It has sort of an Indian feel, but honestly I have no idea where this recipe gets its inspiration.
All I know is, it's fantastic.
Chicken with Spicy Lemon Date Sauce (inspired by Joy the Baker)
2 1/2 cups pitted, chopped dates (I used dry, I'm sure fresh would work as well)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cups water
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger (ginger gets peeled)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
scant 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 chicken breasts
1 roll polenta
Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped dates, lemon juice, water, zest, ginger, and spices to the pan. Simmer until almost all of the water is evaporated. The dates will begin to break down, and the simmering mixture will resemble a very thick stew, about 30 minutes.
While sauce is cooking, put two tablespoons oil in a pan and put in chicken breasts. Cook thoroughly, until juices run clear (around ten minutes, but be absolutely certain it's cooked! Nobody likes their poultry rare).
When cooked, cut the chicken breasts into bite-size chunks.
Remove sauce from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. While it is cooling, chop up the polenta into bite-sized chunks.
Place sauce mixture in the bowl of a food processor fit with a blade attachment. Puree mixture until smooth.
Add sauce, chicken chunks, and polenta chunks back into pan. Stir and cook on medium until warm through.
Serve with rice or naan bread.