An easy and delicious dish that combines Eastern Mediterranean and Asian traditions.
The tart sour cherries are traditionally cooked with meatballs in Iran, Syria, and Turkey, and since I love the combination of fruit with all kinds of meat, I thought chicken would be great with cherries. Boned and skinned chicken thighs cook fast, so the cherries don’t lose their bright color when the dish is done.
Last but not least, I balance the cherries’ tartness with plenty of sliced Kea onions which are wonderfully sweet.
I marinate the chicken with soy sauce and wine, as I do when I make a stir-fry, and this adds an extra layer of flavor.
Serve with just fresh crusty bread, or with toasted pita triangles, like Anissa Helou’s Kabab Karaz. Great with a simple bulgur pilaf, as well as with mashed or roasted potatoes. In the winter it is ideally complemented with David Tanis’ Baked Polenta.
¼ cup soy sauce, preferably Japanese
¼ cup white wine
3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
About 2 Tablespoons fresh thyme
1 ½ pounds (750 grams) boned and skinned chicken thigs
About 1/3 cup olive oil
2-3 medium sweet onions (about 1 pound, 500 grams) halved and cut to about 1/8-inch slices
1 ½ pounds (750 grams) pitted sour cherries, fresh or frozen
Freshly ground pepper and salt, to taste
1-2 teaspoons honey or maple syrup, optional
Fresh thyme to sprinkle
In a medium bowl mix the marinade ingredients, add the chicken, toss, cover and set aside for about 20 minutes, while you start sautéing the onions. Or you can transfer to a Ziploc bag and refrigerate for up to 3 hours.
In a heavy skillet or sauté pan warm the olive oil and add the onions. As they start to sizzle, toss, lower the heat and let the onions cook for about 8 minutes, to soften.
Increase the heat and add the chicken along with its marinade to the onions in the pan. Cook tossing often for about 10 minutes, or until the pieces are no longer pink.
Add the sour cherries, toss, and cook in high heat for another 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked.
Taste, and add some honey or maple syrup if you find the sauce tart –I don’t. Add freshly ground pepper and salt, if needed, sprinkle with fresh thyme and serve.