It is grape season, you guys, and do I ever have a great recipe for you! A few weekends ago, the hubs and I were beer shopping at our local bodega, and the beer monger mentioned something about Modern Time‘s Grape Saison named Universal Friend. We were instantly excited about it, because Modern Times puts out some really great beers!
So, a word about saison beers. Universal Friend is brewed in the style of a saison, which means that it is a sturdy farmhouse ale that is typically brewed in the winter with the aim to refresh in the summer. That also begs the question, what is a farmhouse ale? Way back in the day – we’re talking 19th century – farmers would brew beer to help ease the tired muscles after the day, and give them the renewed spirit to get back into the fields the next. There wasn’t concern to make every batch consistent. They used what they had to make the beer, and that was enough. Today, it’s about making an imaginative beer that not only gets the job done, but also delights the senses!
Modern Times used grape must (which is the first pressing of the grapes, and contains all the skins) in Universal Friend from Pinot Grigio grapes, from which it gets its fruitiness and wine characteristics. It’s light and refreshing, and we knew we had to get our hands on it when it became available on the shelves.
These grapes are great in every sense of the word. They have such a rich flavor, and juicy texture, and GOOD NEWS, they are in season right now, and are headed to your local grocers! They are crispy, and oh so awesome. Make sure to pick some up on your next trip! I could use another container myself just for snacking. When thinking of what to do with them, I always want to do something a little off the wall, and then it hit me with a ton of bricks.
The obvious scenario was to make a savory/sweet sauce with the beauties, and spoon it over some chile and citrus marinated chicken thighs, of course! So without further ado, prepare yourself for a wonderful grape exploration of beer and fruit!
First, I marinated the chicken in a citrus, chile marinade for about 4 hours, and then I cooked them in a skillet, skin side down to get them all crispy. Then, flipped them, and into the oven to finish!
While the chicken cooks in the oven, it’s time to get that sauce going. I sauteed some onions in some of the reserved marinade until translucent.
Then I added the grapes…
… and the beer.
This cooks down for a good while, until the grapes burst. After warming up in the beer and onions, the grapes will get hard, and eventually burst. You can help them out by using a potato masher. The idea is to reduce the sauce a little bit, and concentrate those flavors. I also added a little bit of cream of tartar to thicken up the sauce just a little bit.
Then, spoon some of the sauce over the crispy chicken thighs, and you’re in business baby!
Don’t forget to pour yourself a glass of the delightfully refreshing brew either. Perfection.
Sometimes with all this craft beer business, it can be hard to find the same exact beer that I feature here. Sometimes breweries don’t distribute across the entire US. The beauty of the craft beer movement, is that it’s growing exponentially, and it’s highly likely that there’s a brewery near you who brews the saison style. Saisons are typically light, refreshing, and herbaceous, and any one of them should work very well in this dish!
- ⅓ Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- 6 Tablespoons Canola Oil, divided
- 1 Tablespoon Hatch Chile Powder
- 1 Tablespoon Hungarian Paprika
- Juice and Zest of 1 Lime
- Juice and Zest of 1 Orange
- 6 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- ¼ Teaspoon Pepper
- 8 Bone-in, Skin-on Chicken Thighs
- ¼ Cup Marinade
- 2 Cups Diced Red Onion
- 4 Cups Black Muscato Grapes
- 1 Cup Saison Beer - I used Universal Friend, a grape saison from Modern Times
- 1 Teaspoon fresh Thyme leaves
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- ¼ Teaspoon Pepper
- In a medium bowl, combine the vinegar, 3 tablespoons canola oil, chile powder, paprika, lime and orange juice and zest, garlic, salt and pepper. Reserve ¼ cup of the marinade.
- Place the chicken in a casserole dish large enough for the 8 pieces, and pour the marinade over the chicken, making sure that all chicken surfaces are coated with the marinade.
- Cover and put in the refrigerator to marinate for 4-8 hours, turning once halfway through marinating time.
- Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Heat a large, 13" skillet over high heat, and add in 3 tablespoons canola oil. Add the chicken to the pan, skin side down, and cook for 4-5 minutes until the skin is crispy.
- Flip the chicken over, and place in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the chicken is done.
- Heat a 9" skillet over medium heat, add ¼ cup marinade and onions. Cook unitl the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.
- Turn the heat up to high, and add 1 cup of the beer, thyme, and all the grapes, stirring constantly until they burst, about 20 minutes. You can use a potato masher to help crush the grapes.
- Combine ¼ cup of beer, and the cream of tartar in a small bowl, and add to the grape mixture to help it thicken. Cook for 3-5 more minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly.
- Place chicken thighs on a large platter, and top the chicken with the sauce, serving more on the side. Serve family style.