Tonight’s dinner is chicken – boring? No, not tonight! Summer came late this year and so did all the fruit. Which is why we have fresh, ripe, delicious, very peachy smelling peaches available now. To be honest, I don’t like peaches … but the aroma was so fresh and summery, I couldn’t help myself. Although the season has changed and we have just progressed into autumn, the peaches were signaling for summer’s last stand. What to do with these peaches? Yes, one of my daughters loves peaches but 10 of them? As usual I went overboard, you know … the eyes (in this case the nose), bigger than the belly thing. Home they went and into the fridge to await their fate. The week before I had purchased a case of organic, frozen chicken breasts. The week before that my aunt and uncle had given me a chunk of tamarind, which I love but had not used yet. The mind is working … why not put the three together … somehow. Tonight is the night for experimentation.
An unforeseen, pleasant interruption occurred. A friend decided to drop in for a visit, so we chatted out in the garden until the sun was low in the sky, hiding behind the trees. It was getting late and I was eager to concoct a new recipe in the kitchen. I asked if she had plans for dinner and luckily she didn’t. “Would you be a willing guinea pig tonight”, I asked, explaining what the planned experiment was. “Oh yeah, I’m in”, was her response, always so helpful she is. We were a bit hungry by now, so off to the kitchen we went.
Out came the thawed chicken breast, a pan to put it in and the blender. Next, five of the peaches were looking a little over-ripe, so they were the chosen ones to be peeled, chunked up and tossed into the blender. Step 2, I added a good bit of tamarind paste, a sprinkle of dried chipotle peppers (for that little touch of heat – it is a bit chilly in the evening), and a dash of cardamom (not too much as it is quite potent). Now what? Smelled some sherry, nope neither of us liked it with the aroma coming from the blender, the sherry was too overpowering. Garlic? Of course, garlic in everything! In went 3 fresh garlic cloves. Almonds, yeah, almonds, chicken and peaches, great combo, tossed in a small handful of raw sliced almonds. More spice was needed so… a few dashes of coriander powder, a couple of pinches of garam masala, a drizzle of sesame oil (for that added bit of fat), a few drops of wheat-free tamari sauce and a few drops of fresh lime juice. Hit the blend button, tasted (more than once), approved by both of us and so, poured the mixture over the chicken. Cut up and peeled a good-looking peach, adding fresh, thick slices in any “free” areas of the pan. Sprinkled some coriander and almond slices atop the fresh peaches and popped into the oven for approx. 1 1/4 hours at 375°. An hour more to kick back, relax and discuss the latest events. So simple.
Oh yes, yes, yes, WOW, it was delicious! I wish you could taste it … light, summer sun flavour, a slow heat build up, melt in your mouth. This is fresh and rich tasting at the same time. The chicken was so tender. The remaining sauce in the pan went so well with the wild/brown rice mix – almost like a risotto texture. Asparagus on the side, roasted, olive oiled, a squeeze of fresh lime and a sprinkle of basil. Perfect!
Greatest compliment – my two teenage daughters just walked in and asked, “Mom, what smells so good, what did you cook?”. That doesn’t happen every day.
Yep, this ones going to become a regular meal here – when peaches are in season. Hmmm, I wonder if I could freeze some peaches? Would they have that same fresh, summery smell? I hope so, definitely have to freeze them and see what happens because I can’t wait a whole year to eat this again! Peaches have now moved to my list of favourite foods!
Notes: Make this dish with Tofu instead of chicken. No tamarind? No problem, use dates, dried figs, raisins – a small handful of rich, sweet, dried fruit. Nuts a problem? Leave them out and use extra virgin olive oil instead of the sesame oil. Garam Masala is an excellent Indian spice (actually a combination of spices), found in most supermarkets but best purchased at an ethnic (Indian) store or at your local health food store. This spice adds a lovely pungent flavour to most anything – tofu, eggs, beans, pork, chicken, stews – very versatile!