Madame Saisons: Summer Love – A New Take On Classic Stonefruits
by Sarah Ugazio
The Aussie summer comes with two big advantages. While we take an opportunity to relax and enjoy time with friends and family, the kitchen garden peaks in full swing. The abundance of growth and colour nods to a positive start to the new year. Resolutions to address expanding waistlines acquired over the festive season are buoyed by an array of choice to inspire creative salads, with bulging garden beds and pops of fruiting colour beckoning one to get moving outdoors and start picking summer’s harvest.
With winter far behind us, steady crispness has moved from the air to the palate, found in delightful crunch of fresh lettuces, crunchy cucumbers, capsicums and sugar snap peas. The fruit basket is a fiesta of colour with berries continuing to flourish, while rays of the summer sun present us a with the seasonal gift of stone fruits, including peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, cherries and quinces.
The ending of one year and beginning of the next triggers much reflection for many of us, and though it’s not ideal to dwell, reflecting on the past can reveal a sense of who we are. From a culinary perspective, as a sun-loving country nothing says it more than summer fruits. Where would we be without a beloved pavlova topped with a tower of fresh fruit and cream? Peach Melba is an iconic old classic, whereby smashed avocado (technically a fruit) is a new one – both intrinsically Australian nonetheless.
Another Australian classic, and childhood favourite of many, is the beloved Apricot Chicken. This popular casserole recipe, that gained momentum from the 1970’s, calls for canned apricots and packet French Onion Soup. But in our current age of connecting back to using real food, try this old classic using fresh apricots and chicken stock. Because beginning a new year is a chance to start afresh, and take the old and make it new. ■
Ingredients: (serves four)
- 500g Fresh apricots, pitted and sliced thickly
2 Tbsp Dried apricots, finely chopped
1.5 Tbsp Apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp Sugar
1kg Chicken thigh fillets, cut into 4cm pieces
Flour to coat
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp Oil
1 (large) Onion, thinly sliced
250ml Quality chicken stock
1 Tbsp French tarragon, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Toss fresh apricots in cider vinegar and sugar and leave to marinate for at least two hours. Mix cinnamon into flour, then use this mix to coat chicken pieces. Heat butter and oil in heavy based sauté pan over med-high heat until butter is melted. Brown chicken pieces and set aside. Sauté onions and dried apricots until onions are slightly translucent (add a splash of oil if needed). Deglaze the pan with stock. Puree 1/3 cup of the marinated apricots together with marinade liquid. Add chicken and pureed apricots to the pan and bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 mins until sauce thickens. Add remaining fresh apricots to pan and simmer for a further five minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir through tarragon, holding back a big pinch to garnish. Serve with rice and enjoy!
Follow Sarah on Instagram at @madamesaisons