Sometimes the best recipes arise out of necessity. One Tuesday evening several months ago I was hosting a dinner party. I had planned an easy dinner featuring roasted sumac chicken stuffed with fennel stalks and Parmesan cheese rinds. Simple, yet if done right, perfectly delicious and comforting after a full day’s work.

Upon opening the chicken package I was shocked to discover the chicken wasn’t a whole one! Chicken parts, and badly cut at that, were put it together in the package to appear as a whole bird! So now, in my head, I was scrambling. The refrigerator was almost empty. What was I to do?

I thought to start with a little butter and olive oil, instead of just the oil. Salt and pepper on the skin side, added a sprinkling of cumin on the other side. I added some white wine and then I smeared some Dijon mustard on top. Then I saw this box of dried fruit on the counter so I thought, what the heck, let’s try this. I topped each chicken piece with slices of fruit – apricots, apples, peaches, pears and prunes, and then threw the whole thing in the oven for about 17 minutes and voila, it was divine! The oven was hot – 450 degrees °F for that roast chicken that wasn’t to be – so the fruit got golden and beautiful, and dinner was saved.

Besides the dried fruit, the cumin really saved the night.

Cumin is one of my all-time favorite spices.

I love how it brings out the unique savoriness of each ingredient it touches.

CUMIN AND MUSTARD ROASTED CHICKEN WITH FRUIT – serves 4

One whole organic chicken, backbone removed, cut into 8 pieces, extra skin and fat trimmed
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
Salt
Pepper, fresh ground
11/2 tsp. ground cumin
½ cup dry white wine
4 tsp. Dijon mustard
16 – 18 slices of mixed dried fruit – apricots, peaches, pears, apples and prunes
1 – 2 Tbs. chopped Italian parsley for garnish

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees °F.

Wash and dry the chicken pieces, all fat and extra skin trimmed off. Salt and pepper skin side.

Warm olive oil and butter on medium high heat. Swirl to combine and when butter stops sizzling, place the chicken in the skillet, seasoned side down to brown and crisp skin for 3 – 4 minutes. While that side is browning, season the top side with salt, pepper and cumin. After the first side is nicely browned, turn chicken pieces over and brown the other side for two minutes, then add the white wine and spread the mustard on top of each piece. Then place 2 pieces of dried fruit on top of each lightly mustard coated piece. Put 2 – 3 pieces of fruit on each of the breasts, depending on the size of the fruit. You want to essentially cover the top of the chicken.

Place the skillet in the oven and roast for 15 – 18 minutes. Check doneness with a thermometer – should be 150 – 160 degrees °F. Remove chicken pieces to a platter, keeping the fruit on top. Pour any juices left in the skillet on top of the chicken. Let rest for 10 minutes and sprinkle chopped parsley on top and serve with LOVE.

For more on cumin be sure to check out my previous post on the spice.

About The Author

Mary Frances

My name is Mary Frances. I am a designer, creative director, painter, wife, mother and cook. I own an internationally recognized, award-winning brand development and marketing communications firm in New York City, and am a graduate of Parsons School of Design. I especially love to cook and serve great food to make people content and happy. Hearing mmmm’s makes my heart soar. I grew up in suburban St. Louis, in Webster Groves, the youngest of six and the only girl. (Yes, that’s FIVE older brothers!) My mom was a great home cook, and she made sure that I could make a mean pie from scratch. After Parsons, I married, had two boys and moved from NYC to the NJ suburbs where I threw myself into cooking and entertaining. Now it’s time for me to share the great recipes, tips, stories and LOVE with you. The inspiration for LOVE – the secret ingredient www.lovethesecretingredient.net came from our youngest son when he wrote in a gift cookbook that the one ingredient that was ever-present in my meals was love. When you cook with LOVE, everything just tastes better.

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