Whew! Quite an order. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought it would be a shame to miss out on all the wonderful fresh fruits and veggies that summer offers.
So then there came a day when I was beat. I'd been out running errands all day. It was already late, and I didn't want to cook on the grill because the air felt like a sauna. While running those errands, I had picked up boneless chicken breasts, gorgeous cherries, and nectarines. Could I do something with those? My first thought was to grill the chicken and make a little cherry nectarine salsa to go with it. That, of course, brought the grill and the heat back into the picture, so I nixed that thought.
Could I make a cherry nectarine sauce for the chicken? I gave it a shot. Had I made this in the winter, I would have used frozen cherries, wouldn't have had nectarines, and would have added brandy and maybe some rosemary. But this time, even though I was cooking the fruit, I wanted to preserve that fresh fruit flavor of summer. To be honest, I wasn't sure it would work, but the chicken was, to quote my mother, "like butter" and the fruit sauce had that intense fresh fruity flavor I sought. This is super easy and very fast. And note that, except for the fat that naturally occurs in the chicken breast, there is no added fat. No oil, or butter, or cream, so it's very heart healthy but still packs a punch of flavor. BTW, I should mention that on these soupy summer days when we're all thinking of iced tea and ice cream, this chicken and sauce is pretty good cold, too!
Normally, it's advisable to pound chicken breasts to a uniform thickness so the narrow end doesn't dry out. I didn't bother, and frankly, it made no difference. My chicken breasts were fairly thick, though, so you may find you need a bit less cooking time.
Summertime Cherry Nectarine Chicken
1 1/2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and sliced in half
2 fresh nectarines
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
3-4 boneless chicken breasts
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Dice the nectarines and place in a large oven-safe pan with the cherries, balsamic vinegar and water. Bring to a boil and let simmer, uncovered, about ten minutes. The liquid should be a little bit thick.
Arrange the raw chicken breasts in the sauce, turning to coat. Cover the pan and slide into oven. Bake for about 15 minutes, turning once or twice and checking on doneness.
Slice each chicken breast and serve with the sauce.