This one is for Neil Diamond. I just love that "Cherry" song and he still "has the way to move me, Baby!"
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 6 ounces each
- 2 tablespoons chopped thyme leaves, about 6 sprigs
- Salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup pignoli (pine nuts) a couple of handfuls
- 3 cups chicken stock, divided
- 4 tablespoons cold butter, divided
- 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
- 3 ribs celery, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, eyeball it
- 1 cup dry white wine, 1/4 of a bottle
- 1 cup dried cherries, a couple of handfuls
- 2 cups plain couscous
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice, eyeball it
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, eyeball it
- 1/4 cup honey, eyeball a healthy drizzling
- 2 scallions, finely chopped
- A generous handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat with the 3 turns of the pan of extra-virgin olive oil, about 3 tablespoons. Season chicken liberally with half of the thyme, salt and pepper and add to the hot skillet. Cook the chicken for 5 to 6 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken from the pan to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
In the bottom of a medium sauce pot, heat and toast pine nuts over moderate heat and remove. Add 2 cups stock and 1 tablespoon butter to the pot and bring to a boil.
Return the chicken skillet to the burner over medium-high heat, add 1 turn of the pan of extra-virgin olive oil, add the onion, celery, crushed red pepper flakes, nutmeg, salt and pepper, cook for 3 to 4 or until the celery and onions are tender. Add the white wine, and cook until the pan is almost dry, 1 minute. Add 2 cups chicken stock, dried cherries and continue to cook for about 5 to 6 minutes or until there is only about 1/2 cup of liquid left in the pan. Turn the heat off the under the pan. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons cold butter in small pieces and whisk until it has completely melted.
To remaining 1 cup of boiling stock add couscous, allspice, cinnamon and a little salt. Cover pot and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Drizzle honey over the couscous and add the pine nuts, scallions and parsley. Toss and fluff with a fork to combine.
Serve the chicken whole or sliced with cherry sauce poured over it and couscous alongside. Dark seared greens or simple salad complete the meal.