How a Plum Vinegar Created the Perfect Sweet Cranberry Sauce. (Especially over this Stuffed Chicken!)

Chicken / November 30, 2021

Colorful and packed with tongue-tingling flavor, your next “chicken night” meal is transformed with the addition of this very easy sauce. By pickling the oranges and cranberries with the intense flavors of the Olive This! Umeboshi Plum White Balsamic Vinegar you achieve the perfect tartness. A nice balance against the salted pistachio and creamy goat cheese stuffing which literally melts in your mouth. Serve this gorgeous entrée with a little jasmine rice and your favorite green vegetable for a memorable holiday meal.

One might assume being tasked with recipe development focused on elevating oils and vinegars might be limiting. On the contrary. These ingredients are the cornerstones of every good meal. Without them you’re lost.

For instance, vinegars. Why the fuss? Well, most of us grew up thinking in terms of savory and sweet and never the twain shall meet. You put salt and pepper on your steak, and sugar on your cookies. Acidity was something that came into play when mom used her vinegar to clean glass or lemon juice to bleach a stain. Or maybe create a nice salad dressing but by that time we were sure Kraft invented salads. Other than the aforementioned, the complexity of all these flavors being combined and crossed over together was a mystery and probably rule-breaking. But in the world of true cooking, one must be mindful that many different tastes are needed for a satisfying and truly memorable meal.

There are really 4 main elements to almost every cuisine in the world and they’re beautifully explained by Samin Nosrat in her book SALT, FAT, ACID, HEAT. In it she shares this seminal advice: “Season food with the proper amount of salt at the proper moment; choose the optimal medium of fat to convey the flavor of your ingredients; balance and animate those ingredients with acid; apply the right type and quantity of heat for the proper amount of time—do all this and you will turn out vibrant and beautiful food, with or without a recipe.”

Yeah, this is my kind of narrative. It talks about food as though it were alive. And in truth, it is. Animate ingredients with acid? Fabulous. Without a recipe? Now you’re cooking with your senses and that is the foundation of what makes Bling Cuisine work. And so it is that I present to you this delicious recipe that combines all these elements. It’s danged gorgeous, too!

My creation began the moment I dribbled a bit of this vinegar on my tongue and listened to it tell me where it wanted to go. Since you most likely are not tasting it while reading this, I will tell you it is sweet but carries a kind of maraschino cherry-ness. A bit of spice that is slightly like licorice hits you at the end. YUMMM. As usual, I describe a recipe as though we’re on a tasting-journey. Then as I took another nibble, the idea came: I will use the vinegar to pickle some cranberries and oranges perhaps adding a bit of honey at the end. I will use this acidic element to balance the peppery, crunchiness of pistachio and the smooth, creaminess of the lemon-infused goat cheese all rolled inside a chicken breast. And when it came together in real life? Well, each bite was amazing. It was festive and fresh. And as Samin states, vibrant and beautiful!

Pistachio and Lemon Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken with an Umeboshi Plum Vinegar Pickled Cranberry Orange Sauce.

Serves 4 – 6


Pounding out the chicken pieces to just the right thickness will help to showcase a tighter, swirling display of goat cheese and pistachio stuffing. Make this sauce when you need a quick accompaniment to ham, turkey or even with seafood. It goes with everything and looks like a precious set of jewels on your plate.

INGREDIENTS:

PICKLED CRANBERRY SAUCE:

6 ounces bagged fresh cranberries

½ C water

2 T honey

1 C Umeboshi Plum White Balsamic Vinegar from Olive This!

2 Clementines peeled and sectioned

½ t cracked black pepper

CHICKEN:

3 large skinless boneless chicken breasts, about 8-10 ounces each

2/3 C salted shelled pistachios, divided

1/3 C Italian breadcrumbs. I used Progresso brand

1, 4 oz. package plain goat cheese (Don’t use the crumbled goat cheese. Need the soft version)

Zest from one large lemon

1 large garlic clove grated

1 large egg

2 T cream (2% milk with also work)

1/3 C chopped Italian leaf parsley reserving some for garnish when serving meal

1 ½ t kosher salt + ½ t black pepper

2 T olive oil to grease baking dish and a couple T olive oil to drizzle over the top

METHOD:

  • Put cranberries in a small saucepan covered with the ½ C water. Bring to boil, reduce to medium and cook for about 3-5 minutes, stirring often, until all the cranberries have popped open. Remove from heat and add the 1 C of Umeboshi Plum White Balsamic Vinegar and the orange sections. Stir into the hot liquid. Cover and set aside until ready to use. Or refrigerate when cooled to room temperature, and then when ready to serve put it back in a small saucepan and heat thoroughly. DO NOT BOIL. Right before serving add 2 T honey and 1/8 t black cracked pepper and blend well.
  • Empty the goat cheese into a small bowl and add the lemon zest, and the grated ginger. Blend well. Take the first 1/3 C of pistachios and chop with a knife into chunky pieces. Try to at least cut them so no large nuts remain. Set that aside. Take the other 1/3 C of pistachios and chop them finely. I used a small food chopper to make them large crumb-size. You could use a coffee grinder; just be careful you don’t chop them too small. These are the nuts that will be used for breading the chicken.
  • For chicken cut each of the three breast sections in half lengthwise. (Note that a normal skinless whole boneless breast is the two halves, making 6 pieces. That’s too much. I used a package that was simply three halves, the usual way they’re packaged in most supermarkets.) Place the cut chicken pieces in a large plastic bag and using a mallet, gently but assertively pound them out to a little more than 1/2” thickness. I worked in two batches and used a gallon sized zip-lock so I could control the thickness more effectively.
  • Preheat your oven to 375° F. Gently oil an oblong glass baking dish.
  • Lay out the pounded breast pieces on a cutting board. Using a small spatula, spread the goat cheese, garlic, and lemon zest mixture over each of the breast keeping the mixture just inside the edges. Now sprinkle with just a bit of chopped parsley leaves. And generously salt and pepper them. I probably used about 1 ½ teaspoon of kosher salt and about ½ t black pepper evenly divided. Sprinkle the large pistachio pieces over the goat cheese dividing them evenly among the 6 chicken pieces. Rolling from the short side, roll them tightly and secure by tying with two pieces of food-grade twine on each end about ¼ of the way in. Tie it firmly but don’t squish the chicken. Cut off the ends of the knotted twine.
  • Crack the egg into a bowl big enough to fit each chicken rollup, add the cream and using a fork blend it until smooth. Empty the finely ground pistachios into another bowl with the Italian breadcrumbs. Blend the crumbs evenly with the nuts. Working quickly so you don’t let them sit in the egg, take a rollup and immerse it in the egg wash, and then roll in the pistachio breadcrumb mixture. Shake off the excess. Place them in the greased glass baking dish evenly spaced. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil in a very thin stream.
  • Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. You can test doneness by gently pressing on it with your index finger. If it doesn’t yield too much they’re done. If they squish in, they may need about 5 more minutes. DO NOT overcook. The chicken is thin so it will bake quickly.
  • Serve chicken over white rice alongside buttered broccoli and top with a ladle of the hot pickled cranberry orange sauce.


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