Grilled Chicken with Peach BBQ Sauce

There are two sure signs of summer in Boston: Your overworked winter coat catches a rest in your closet and white tents of farmers’ markets pop up in grassy town centers or cluster around subway entrances. My excitement for my first walk through the displays of ruddy produce was dampened after I couldn’t find a single piece of fruit to snack on in the Harvard Square Farmers’ Market a week ago Sunday. I may have had skewed expectations as fruit isn’t yet abundant so early in the season – there are mostly only vegetables right now. While I did manage to pick up jewel-like strawberries and a few tart yellow cherries at the Copley Square Farmers’ Market on Friday, I can hardly wait to devour my first sweet, local peach. I’ll inevitably end up with a stained shirt but it will be worth it – my neater husband makes a habit of eating stone fruit over the sink.

Summer fruit is divine on it’s own but can sometimes be aided by a condiment – though I never would have paired ketchup with a peach. That is until I read the recent Bon Appetit with Gwenyth Paltrow on the cover and saw her whip up a ketchup and peach sauce for chicken. Between the pictures of her sophisticated clean kitchen and the ease and healthfulness of the dish I was convinced it would be worth a gamble. Given that I’m still waiting for our local peaches to show their face, I bought a bag of sliced, peeled frozen peaches at Whole Foods and then defrosted them in the fridge along with a package of Grow and Behold chicken breasts. As I cooked the unlikely peach-ketchup combination into a sauce, it took on a delicious jam-like texture, though not nearly as sticky or thick. Even before the sauce had cooled I was dipping my finger in and quickly licking off bits of the sweetly savory combination – notes of peach, tomato, garlic, lemon and soy played on my palate.

I was quite happy with the final dish, and even happier that for the first time in his life Sam actually enjoyed white meat. I think it stayed super tender, not only from being marinated in the sauce, but also from being served with additional reserves of the sauce. I was hoping for a stronger soy sauce and garlic flavor so I increased the amount of both in the recipe below. The dish is great served on it’s own or over a bed of salad. It makes great take-along picnic food as well.

Summer Peach Chicken

Adapted from Gwenyth Paltrow’s recipe for Grilled Chicken with Peach BBQ Sauce as it appeared in the June 2011 edition of Bon Appetit magazine. Serves 4

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 cup fresh or 10 oz frozen peaches, thawed
½ cup ketchup
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, crushed
salt and pepper to taste

Chop the peaches. Set a small pot over a medium flame. Put in the chopped peaches, ketchup, lemon juice, soy sauce and crushed garlic cloves.  Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from heat and allow the sauce to cool. Puree sauce with an immersion blender or a regular blender. Add more salt and pepper according to your taste.

Place half the sauce in a container with the chicken to marinate – cover the chicken evenly in the sauce and either marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes or in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours. Set the rest of the sauce aside if marinating for a short amount of time – if marinating for several hours store in the refrigerator.

Grill the marinated chicken for 5 minutes on each side or broil for 7 minutes on each side. Brush with the reserved sauce before serving.

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