If you’ve never tried bbq sauce made with rich, sweet yet tart cherries, you are in for a treat. This CHERRY BALSAMIC BBQ CHICKEN served over herbed couscous is sure to win you over!
Here in the Northwest, June is cherry picking season. If you’re smart (and don’t we all like to think of ourselves as smart?) you would stockpile those sweet, tart jewels in your freezer so that you can enjoy them for many months to come. That’s what we do (yep, we’re smart!) and we happily use them in smoothies, pies, salads, and even pair them with meat (like thick cut pork chops or chicken, like we did in this recipe) by adding them to our favorite barbecue sauce recipe.
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I’m sure I don’t need to convince you of the glories of a great barbecue sauce, but let’s just say that this one is something special. We add ripe cherries to balsamic vinegar to create the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity for a barbecue sauce that exceeds expectations, every time. The fresh burst of flavor from the cherries is such a welcome surprise and we never fail to receive compliments and recipe requests when serving it to guests.
If you’re anything like me, you’re always looking for new ways to use chicken breast. It should go without saying that the best way to prepare this versatile meat in the summer months is to grill it up and toss it on a salad, alongside some rice or veggies, maybe even potato salad. Here, we prepare our grilled chicken by brushing it generously with our tangy cherry barbecue sauce, and serve it with a simple Israeli (also known as pearl) variety couscous. We add a handful of herbs (whichever variety we have on hand) from all of those abundant herb bushes in our garden for a burst of freshness to the couscous, serve with some grilled veggies, and there you have it…an effortless dinner that tastes like it was much more time consuming than it actually was. And, bonus! You can feed a hungry crowd with this meal without breaking the bank, which makes it perfect for all those pool parties that end up rolling into the evening hours resulting in many sets of ravenous eyes looking to you for food.
So go ahead, stock up on those perfectly ripe cherries filling your local grocery stores and farmer’s markets. When this grilled chicken breast with cherry barbecue sauce and herbed couscous makes it into your weekly meal rotation, you’ll be thanking us you did.
Cherry Balsamic BBQ Sauce:
- ¾ cup natural ketchup
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 2 tsp ground mustard
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 cups frozen cherries
- 4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp stone ground mustard
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
Herbed Israeli Couscous:
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 ½ cups Israeli pearl couscous
- 1 ½ cups chicken stock
- ¾ cup water
- 2 large sprigs thyme
- ½ tsp salt
- Flat leaf parsley chopped for serving
- Place all ingredients for the bbq sauce in a medium sized pot. Over medium heat, simmer until cherries are tender and sugar is dissolved, about 7 minutes.
- Pour pots contents into a blender and blend on high until mixture is smooth. Refrigerate until room temp, stirring 1-2 times. Makes about 2 ½ cups.
- While bbq sauce is cooling, make the chicken marinade. In a small bowl mix the olive oil, mustard, minced garlic, salt, pepper and brown sugar. Place the chicken in a bowl with a tight fitting lid. Pour marinade over chicken, cover with lid, shake to coat the chicken.
- Heat grill to medium-high heat and lightly oil grate. Cook chicken on the prepared grill 10-15 minutes per side, or until no longer pink and juices run clear. Coat the chicken with cherry-balsamic bbq sauce while grilling.
- While Chicken is on the grill, make the couscous. Heat oil in a medium frying pan. Add dry couscous and sprigs of thyme, stirring until toasted and turning slightly golden brown. In a separate pot (with tight fitting lid) bring chicken stock and water to a boil. Add toasted couscous to boiling stock, cover with a tight fitting lid, remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes the couscous will be tender. If any liquid remains, turn heat back on and simmer, stirring frequently until all the water is absorbed.
- To serve, place ¼ of the herbed couscous onto each plate, top with bbq chicken and desired amount of bbq sauce and sprinkle with flat leaf parsley.
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