Aug 6, 2010

So you have some apricots

The family got some apricots from some very nice neighbors who have had the tree for years and only this summer decided to produce fruit.  Lots of fruit.  Way too much to use; they've been giving it away like crazy [ed. many inappropriate similes considered and rejected].

But they're not exactly the tastiest in the world.  I mean, they're good.  They're just not omgwtf wonderful.  And did I mention there are lots of them?

So, we cook.

Apricots, apricots, searching...  No, we're not going to make a jam or a desert or anything overly sweet.  Just not my thing.  And we're not doing pork.  Mainly because I can't find any in the house.

But wait.  Let's think about traditional pairings.  I mean, I'm pretty sure apricots are used all over south asia and the great middle east, right?  (Wikipedia says yes and much, much more.)  Ok, so let's think about, say, Iran.  Maybe Turkey.  What would compliment a mild pear-like fruit...

Pistachios.  Just stay with me here; this is about the point where my brother declared that either the proposed dish or I were "weird".

We have a high-sugar, medium-flavor fruit.  We need it to shine.  Something rich with a nutty yet still slightly sweet taste?  Perfect.  Plus the oils are delicious; otherwise almonds would do the trick.

So let's do this thing.

Combine in a food processor:
  • 18 or so apricots, cored
  • About a ramekin of shelled pistachios, washed several times if salted
Whir together.  10 1-second pulses are fine; you don't need to feel obligated to pulverize the pistachios.  You definitely want to get rid of some of the excess salt though.

In the meantime, start heating a decent sized sauce pan with a bit of oil (olive is fine).  Also, start thawing some chicken if need be.

Once the oil is hottish, add the seeds of three cardamom pods, maybe four or five cloves, and a very small number of cumin seeds, in that order, waiting for each to become fragrant before adding the next.

[Tangent, not required for the recipe at all: this is actually an entire idea based on a decidedly non-French style of cooking.  We're toasting spices, not aromatics.  The aromatics come in later and are left either stewed or nearly raw.  It's just a different way of flavoring things and if you're serious about making food that resembles anything from persian to indian and even further east into parts of China, get this technique down.  Through lots and lots of experimentation.]

Once your spices are toasted, add the apricot slurry.  Reduce heat and add:
  • White or rice vinegar
  • Sugar (if needed; if the apricots were quite sweet omit this)
Slice your chicken (two decently sized breasts or so) in thin strips then add that.  Let that cook while the sauce reduces and caramelizes a bit.

After half an hour or so, add a sliced onion and a medium to large tomato cut into about 16 parts.

And walk away for awhile for the whole thing to simmer down so the sauce can permeate the chicken and reduce further.

Serve with rice and some sort of salad, possibly with pita.


  1. Ive used them in brewing beer, they go well in pale ales or compliment wheat beers very well. Nathan

  2. Sounds freaking awesome.