Monday, September 13, 2010

Plum Harvest: Peruvian Chicken with Plums & a Tasty Tart

We've been living in our rental house in Southeast Portland since the end of October last year, and realized just a couple of weeks ago that there are two plum trees in our front yard.  To our delight, we found out right in the middle of the sweet sweet ripening season.  Day after day I've been sending the kids out to pick the juicy little treasures.  First, my youngest to gather from the lower branches, then my boy to get whatever he could reach, and finally, my 10 year old (who is almost taller than me) to reap the fruits from as high as she could reach.

With such an abundance of plums, I figured I'd better find some interesting things to do with some of them.  First off, I tried to figure out what variety they are, but had no luck.  The fruit is oblong, dark purplish-burgundy in color on the outside and golden yellow on the inside.  The pit is easily removed when the plum is halved.  Maybe somebody can comment and advise on the type?

Anyhow, I started by making plum jam, which was pretty easy and tasty on toast and pancakes.  This was a no-brainer, and I made enough that I could use some in other recipes.  What I really wanted to find, however, was a way to incorporate plums into a savory dish. I searched high and low for recipes containing "chicken and plums" and found Peruvian Chicken with Plums to be the most interesting.  Of course, I made some substitutions and modified the recipe to my own taste/pantry but you can Google it if you want the popular version (it's pretty much the same on all sites that feature it).

Peruvian Chicken with Plums

1 tbsp olive oil
6-8 chicken thighs - skin removed
salt & garlic pepper to taste
1 small diced onion
2 Anaheim peppers, seeded and diced
1 tomato, diced
1/4 tsp turmeric (original recipe calls for saffron)
2 cups of chicken broth
1 bay leaf
8 small plums, halved and pitted
4 cups of cooked rice (recipe calls for brown, I used Jasmine)

First I sprinkled the chicken with sea salt and garlic pepper.  I heated the oil over medium-high heat and then browned the chicken pieces on both sides (about 4 minutes per side). Next I added the onion and sauteed for about two minutes before adding the peppers and garlic.  I sauteed everything for another two minutes, and then added the tomato, turmeric, chicken broth and bay leaf. This is where you turn the heat up and bring the whole pot to a boil. Next, I covered the pot, turned the heat down to medium and simmered for about 10 minutes.  Next, I added the plums and cooked for about 5 minutes before stirring in the rice.

The end result was divine.  It was reminiscent of a Cuban Arroz-con-Pollo but with a unique flavor and that sweet plum flavor to provide a surprising contrast.  Divine.  Seriously.

Then, on to dessert.

Simple Plum Tart

1 stick of butter, softened to room temp
1/4 cup of sugar
1 cup of flour
6-8 small plums sliced into thin wedges
3 tbsp plum jam

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Then cream butter and sugar together with a whisk.  Slowly add in the flour and continue to whisk together until only your hands will do to integrate the mixture.  Roll the dough out with your hands onto the counter (or on a cutting board) and form the shape of a large cookie.  Carefully peel the "cookie" off the counter and place onto a greased (or sprayed with cooking spray) pie tin or cookie sheet.  Next, arrange the plum slices in a spiral shape starting in the center of the dough and outward, leaving about an in to an inch and a half of dough uncovered.  Fold in the inch of uncovered dough over the outer edge of plum slices.  Then spoon plum jam over the slices of plums to cover them evenly.  Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes, keeping an eye on the color of the crust.