Before you say, “Whaaaaaa the? Prunes and chicken??” Just take a deep breath and trust me.
The combination of grill roasted rich prunes and earthy ancho chilies mixed with grilled chicken is a winning combination!
So, there’s an awesome group of wine bloggers I’m friends with and we get together (virtually) a couple times a year on Twitter to taste wines from Pedroncelli Winery out of Sonoma County. But instead of just tasting wines and talking about wine notes (which can often be a bit boring!), we all make a recipe chosen by the winery to pair with a specific wine and chat about the food pairing while talking to the winemaker. What I love about the family is that they always select some obscure ingredient or recipe that, when you look at it you think, “Um, you want me to make whaaat?”
Well that’s what I do at least, especially when they wanted me to cook with prunes.
Inspired by this New York Times recipe, they called for cooking the chicken over a large sauté pan, then creating a sauce with sherry, miso, prunes, and soaked dried ancho chilies. But you guys know I never play by the rules. Why cook indoors when you have a grill?!
So we adapted the recipe for outdoor cooking.
Starting with smoking the chicken on the grill.
We started the chicken fairly low, around 250 degrees F, on our Big Green Egg with a couple wood chunks mixed with the coals for extra smoky flavor, then increased the temperature to 400 degrees F towards the end to get some nice grill marks and a crispy crust. Whether you decide to smoke at a lower temperature, or hot, you do just make sure to cook to proper temperature (165 degrees F) using a good digital thermometer.
When your chicken is done, remove it and set it aside. Place the dried chilies in a bowl and add near boiling water, you want that to sit for at least 30 minutes or until the chilies are soft and rehydrated.
Now you need to keep heat on the grill, we are going to use the pan and make the dish on the grill. You can see the heat plate below that helps avoid scorching the pan if it was direct flame under, but inside the BGE it’s plenty hot. Place a large skillet directly on your grill and add olive oil, onion, and garlic to sauté until soft. We would stir and close lid to make sure we took advantage of the heat. Then add your seasonings, some white wine and chicken stock and miso. Next add the chicken pieces the softened dried chilies (removed from the water), and the prunes. Stir together, close lid, then let those bad boys mingle and become good friends, around 15-20 mins. Alternatively, you can do all of the steps (minus the chicken) on your stovetop while the chicken is grilling, and then transfer outside to add the chicken pieces to finish the cooking on the grill. If you feel like there isn’t enough liquid, add more stock and miso and taste for flavor.
Let’s get a little closer shall we???
Just look at that crispy chicken and all of those flavorful juices! You know it’s gonna be a good meal.
That’s it. Finally, ask your husband to pull the dish from the grill so you can get one last photo, for dramatic sake, then it’s time to serve.
Now comes the fun part!
Grilled Chicken with Ancho Chilies and Prunes
- 1 whole chicken, cut up into 6 pieces (buy pre cut or ask your butcher to cut a whole roaster chicken into pieces for you)
- 2+ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (1 for the chicken, 1 for the sauce)
- 1/4 cup chicken seasonings: ≈ (we use a combination of salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic)
- 12 dried ancho chilies
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, diced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
- 1/4 cup chicken stock
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon miso paste
- 12 pitted prunes, sliced in half
- 1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped (for garnish)
To Grill the Chicken
- Preheat your grill to 250 degrees.
- Coat the chicken with olive oil, then liberally coat the chicken with your favorite chicken dry rub (or simply salt and pepper).
- Place chicken on grill on indirect heat and cook about 30 - 45 minutes minutes. When the chicken gets to around 150 degrees internal temperature place on direct heat to get some char marks. Remove the chicken when it gets to 165 degrees F.
For the Ancho Chili and Prune Sauce
- Place the ancho chilies in a small bowl, cover with near boiling water and set aside. (boiling is fine too, just pull it off right when the bubbles start)
- In a large saucepan set to medium heat (or directly on the hot grill) add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the onions. Let the onions soften (around 5 minutes), then add garlic, and mix together for one minute. Add the cumin, stock, wine, and miso.
- Drain the chilies and cut in half to remove seeds and core. Chop the chilies and add to the sauce. Next add the prunes and the grilled chicken pieces. Return the pot to the grill (or leave on the stovetop). Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, basting 1-2 times to get some of those delicious juices on the chicken. Remove from heat.
- Serve by placing a chicken piece on a plate and top with loads of that tasty sauce with the chilies and prunes.
We’ve got a lot of flavors going on in this dish. The crispy grilled chicken, the earthy chilies soaked in that broth, and the slight sweetness from this rich prunes. I like to bring out those smoky and earthy flavors when we can. Some Syrahs will do, especially if they’re well balanced and not too rich in textures. Those from the Rhone Valley would work quite well with this.
For the Pedroncelli tasting we tasted the dish with three very different wines; a white blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurstraminer, a Rosé of Zinfandel, and a Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cabernet was my pick for the dish as it had great structure and rich fruity flavors that complimented the spices from the chicken and the textures in the sauce quite nicely. Plus it wasn’t a heavy or overly tannic Cab so it was much more well suited for a dish like this.
Based on the recipe, what would you pair with this dish?
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The wines in this post were provided as samples for review. See my review policy here.
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