Thursday, July 16, 2009

Strawberry Gastrique...

I'm back tonight with another strawberry recipe, however this time they went into a savory dish that we prepared for dinner - Gorgonzola-Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Strawberry Gastrique! Pretty swanky title, no?

This gastrique, which is just a lavish term for a syrupy reduction, does take some time to cook down, so this is where I steered my attention right off the bat. Strawberries, smashed with sugar, sherry vinegar, broth and a sprinkling of ground coriander create the base of the sauce and are left on the stove to simmer down, concentrating the flavors and thickening the mixture. If you have problems locating sherry vinegar, which I have in the past, I'd use a red (or white) wine vinegar, which seems to be more commonly available. Because you don't want any obtrusive elements, once it was ready, we pressed this mixture through one of our sieves, making for a luscious, silky sauce.

Since that took a good half hour to reduce, I was left with plenty of time to get the chicken breasts stuffed! Before getting my hands covered with chicken juices, I stirred pungent crumbles of Gorgonzola cheese, fresh thyme and chopped prosciutto together, creating the cheesy stuffing. You could slice the chicken in half, opening it like a book to get this combo inside, but I find it easier to just use a thin, flexible knife to cut a two to three inch opening, then moving the knife back and forth around the inside to make a pocket. This way it leaves most of the chicken breast intact and I find it tends to leaks less, keeping the filling in as the chicken cooks.

If you want to sear the chicken on one side and finish it in the oven, by all means go for it as the chicken is fairly thick - however, since it didn't have any breading to it, I found it was just fine where it was. After browning the chicken on one side, we simply flipped them over and covered the pan, trapping the heat in and allowing you to turn down the flame. They can then cook through without needing to be constantly tended to or risk scorching, leaving you with succulent white meat that defies its typical dryness.

You could present this a couple ways - serve the chicken whole on a pool of the ruby sauce as we did (I was in a hurry to eat, hence the single picture!), or if you wanted to take a more striking approach, slice the chicken crosswise and then drizzle the sauce down the middle and around the sides once plated. There was enough sauce that each piece of chicken I sliced off was able to get in on the action, but darn it if I didn't find myself licking the plate to get each and every speck of it off! Next time I'd make one and a half times the amount, because selfishly, I just wanted extra for myself! What I appreciated about the sauce was how balanced it was - the strawberries and sugar brought the sweet, the vinegar delivered with its tart notes and to bring the two together for this savory dish, the broth played anchor so neither overwhelmed.


  1. This recipe seems to have many flavors! MmM

  2. Gastrique - I love this word! It's a new one for me.

  3. This looks outstanding and features a great word (well a few really) - that means it's going on the wishlist!

  4. Karine - Did we lure you in to give it a try?

    Quinn - It is fun to say!

    TannyP - Great! Enjoy.

  5. I made this for dinner last night, following the recipe as written, except doing 1 1/2 times gastrique. You are right, it was really good!
    (Oh, and I did add one diced shallot to the filling as I love shallots)
    Two out of three kids ate it up (one doesn't like blue cheese) and my husband and I both loved it. I served it with the cumin roasted potatoes (a recipe you made a LONG time ago that I make again and again we love it so much) and corn on the cob. Pretty delicious dinner!

  6. Jennifer - Awesome! I'm glad you are giving the recipes a try and reporting back!