It didn’t take too long for me to turn to Google in search of ways to use those kumquats. Most of what I found were sweet dishes. There were a few pickled/preserved applications that looked interesting, but I wanted something that would give me instant gratification. So when I clicked on over to Epicurious, I was rewarded with a savory dish that used ingredients I already had on standby for another recipe. It was a sign.
Here’s the thing about those kumquats, they’re cheeky. You look at them and expect a sweet little morsel. You pop one in your mouth, expecting something like an orange. That’s a big mistake because unlike an orange, the flesh is tart. It’s the skin that is amazingly sweet and delicate. Put the two together and it’s like you pounded a handful of SweetTarts. Sliced very thinly, it’s an enjoyable combination. Eaten whole, not as much.
I can’t say that kumquats will become a regular grocery item for me but at least the next time I get impulsive and put some in the cart, I won’t have a problem using them. And for a sweet take on the ‘quats, I could make this cake or this marmalade.
Sauteed Chicken over Wilted Spinach with Kumquat Sauce
Gourmet, December 1998
The recipe actually calls for boneless breasts with skin on. I only had skinless breasts and they worked just find.
- 3 kumquats
- 1 large shallot
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1/8 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
- 4 cups packed spinach leaves
Separately cut kumquats and shallot crosswise into think slices, discarding any kumquat seeds. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat until foam subsides and sautee chicken until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Turn chicken over and cook over moderate heat until just cooked through, about 5 more minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and cover to keep warm.
Add shallot to skillet and cook, stirring frequently, 1 minute. Sprinkle sugar over shallot and cook, undisturbed, until sugar is melted and golden. Immediately stir in kumquats, water, vinegar, and red pepper flakes and simmer, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. If sauce is too thin, simmer until slightly thickened. Season to taste with salt.
Transfer two-thirds of sauce to a small bowl and add spinach to remaining sauce in skillet. Toss with tongs until just wilted.
Divide spinach between two plates and top with chicken. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve.