Chicken W/Sweet & Zesty Raisin Sauce

Chicken W/Zesty Raisin SauceI have mentioned before that sometimes, you can find fantastic recipes in unusual places.  One of my favorite spots to search and skim for hidden ideas are product websites.  For example, the Land O’Lakes site is loaded with anything and everything you ever wanted to do with butter!  And did you know that the product site for Spice Islands is loaded with original recipe ideas?  Now you can finally figure out what to do with that turmeric that is taking up space in your cabinet!

The point is, technology has made it easier than ever to have access to the kinds of researched recipes that we previously could only find on the advertising pages of magazines and newspapers.  And that was where the original version of this recipe came from.  About 15 years ago, I ripped an ad for Sun Maid Raisins out of a magazine and made the dish for dinner that night.  Years later, when the ad was long lost and I was trying to remember how to make that specific dish, the internet came to my rescue.  I have changed it and streamlined the flavors a bit, but those test kitchen people in the raisin offices knew what they were doing.  And while we are on the subject, wouldn’t that be an amazing job?  As long as it was a food that I liked (no sauerkraut testing for me) and would be able to be used in sweet and savory applications, I would totally ROCK that kind of job.  Mmmm.  I would pick cream cheese, but for the fact that everything that can ever be made with cream cheese seems to have already been created…

My favorite thing about this recipe?  It uses pantry ingredients.  A group of my friends are currently working their way through February being culinarily frugal.  The point is to use up what is already in their pantries, fridges, and freezers, and to get creative in the kitchen without running to the store twice a week to buy more and more food.  I am not participating because I have already kind of been doing that lately.  So much so, that I cleaned my fridge a few days ago because there wasn’t anything in it.  My chest freezer currently only contains two turkeys, 1 whole chicken, 3 packages of brats, a quart of barbecue sauce, and a 5 lb bag of white whole wheat flour so that certainly wasn’t going to stretch very far.  Instead, I have been collecting recipes that use pantry ingredients in creative and inexpensive ways to help them plan and expand their monthly menus.  I LOVE to do this kind of thing so aside from physically restraining myself from actually driving to their homes and peeking in their cupboards, this is the next best thing.

This recipe is definitely one I am going to include in my list for them.  Aside from the chicken, you could serve this with just about any vegetable you have on hand, and the sauce comes entirely from the pantry.  It is also adaptable to different dried fruits and various sweeteners if you needed to get creative so check the NOTE at the bottom of the recipe for some smart variations.  And while you are doing that, I am going to be making next week menus.  Maybe roast turkey with barbecue sauce and a side of brats….
Chicken W/Zesty Raisin SauceChicken W/Sweet & Zesty Raisin Sauce
Adapted from Sun Maid
We always serve this with brown rice.  This recipe is stellar with it!

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1-28 oz can diced tomatoes, lightly drained
1 c raisins
¼ c lemon juice
¼ c brown sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste

Place a large skillet over medium heat and film with olive, canola, or grape seed oil.  Season the chicken breast lightly with salt and pepper on each side and sear the chicken in the pan until brown, about 4 minutes per side.  The meat won’t be cooked in the middle but thats OK.  You just want the flavor from the sear.  When it is golden brown, remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.  Add the remaining ingredients to the skillet, being conservative with your salt and pepper.  Stir to combine and bring to a bubbly over the same medium heat, scraping up the good brown bits stuck to the pan.  When it is hot and bubbling, return the chicken to the pan, snuggling the pieces down in the sauce.  Turn the heat all the way down to low and cover with a lid.  Check on it after a few minutes to make sure it is still barely bubbling.  You want to cook the meat gently so that it stays moist and juicy!  Let it cook until chicken is done, 5-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of your chicken breasts.  Remove the meat to a serving platter and taste the sauce for seasoning.  Serve chicken with sauce poured over top or on the side.

Note:  There are many ways to adapt this recipe to suit whatever you have on hand.  Using thick cut, boneless pork chops is just as good!!  While we love to serve this with brown rice, it is great with any kind of starch: plain noodles, white rice, quinoa, couscous, or even mashed potatoes.  Obviously, raisins are what make this sweet and tangy sauce so fantastic, but dried cranberries or chopped dried plums or apricots would be great as well.