A tree grows in
Brooklyn, The Bronx, Brentwood. Back in my looking-out-the-window days as a little girl in the Bronx, there was a sight that always captured my imagination, and it kept me coming back to revisit it time and time again. Unlike the visuals you may have about what the Bronx looks like, there were dense trees everywhere–pine trees, birch trees, ash trees (okay, maybe not all over the Bronx).
And some very tall trees. Across the street and beyond, I could see the trees from my upstairs bedroom window, towering over the rooftops of the houses in the neighborhood. And every twenty minutes, a train came speeding out of the trees and off to the right. It took several years for me to finally get that the train didn’t have a nest in the trees. The train, in fact, was gliding along the tracks of the El (elevated), the number 5 Lexington Ave., to be exact, and speeding toward its destination–59th Street–basement level of Bloomingdale’s.
I’ve always loved trees. Novio and I are blessed to have inherited three gorgeous fruit trees. One of them bears kumquats.
And she’s a-bearin’ a lot of kumquats right about now. What do I know from kumquats? Since “not a whole lot” is the answer, and since I like to use seasonal food, and it’s right here, I ‘d better figure this out. Marmalade, chutney, salads, muffins, chicken–okay, I’ll begin with a chicken dish, and be inspired by the wonderful Mediterranean tradition of mixing fruit with meat.
I began by quickly browning the chicken breasts in a hot greased pan for a couple of minutes per side. Chicken thighs or cut-up chicken would work well for this recipe, adjusting cooking times.
Remove chicken to a platter and get busy sauteing veggies and fruit.
Return chicken to pan to simmer everything together until veggies are tender and just until chicken is no longer pink.
If there’s a lot of liquid left in pan, remove chicken and veggie/fruit mixture. Bring liquid up to boil and down to medium-high, scraping up bits with a wooden spoon. Continue until you’ve reduced the juices to about half. Pour over chicken. If you like, add chopped Italian parsley to serve.
Ingredients:1 T. olive oil 2 lbs. chicken breasts, skinless and boneless 1 large onion, chopped 3 cloves garlic, minced 2 cups kumquats, cut in half, lengthwise 2 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise in quarters and sliced in 1/2″ little chunks 1 T. plum preserves (can also use fig or apricot preserves or orange marmalade) 1 T. honey 1/2 c. white wine 1/2 t. cinnamon 1/2 t. cumin 1/4 t. coriander 1 T. Italian parsley, chopped
Rinse chicken and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels to prevent lots of spattering (safety FIRST!). Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
Heat large skillet. Add oil and heat until oil just begins to shimmer. Quickly brown chicken in one layer for two minutes on one side and one minute on the other. Brown in batches if necessary. Remove chicken to a large plate.
Add chopped onion to hot oil and saute on medium-high heat for two minutes or until just tender. Add garlic and cook for a half-minute.
Add kumquats and zucchini and stir well. Add in preserves, honey and wine. Stir, then cook, covered for 10 minutes.
Return chicken to pan and simmer, covered, for about 10 more minutes, or until fruit and veggies are tender and chicken is no longer pink inside (thicker breasts will need a few more minutes. I usually cut a breast in half -across its width – to check. In any case, I end up cutting all the chicken in half to serve.
Taste sauce and add salt and pepper if needed. Remove to serving platter.
If the sauce in pan is liquidy, remove just chicken and veggie/fruit mixture. Bring liquid up to boil and down to medium-high, scraping up bits with a wooden spoon. Continue until you’ve reduced the juices by about half. Pour over chicken. Sprinkle chopped Italian parsley over chicken to serve. Delicious with rice, couscous, barley or a short pasta.
- Add 1/2 cup pitted green olives when adding the veggies and fruit.
- Add 1/4 cup capers during last 5 minutes of cooking time.
- Include 1 T. chopped fresh rosemary or 1 t. dried rosemary in pan with the kumquats.
- Substitute zucchini for 1 cup of raw 3/4″ cubed butternut squash – cook with rest of the ingredients until tender.