If you have a loquat tree and are wondering what in the world to do with all of the fruit, you are not alone. It seems that everyone in Tallahassee with a loquat tree is having a bumper crop this year. We have several trees in our yard and have never had even one loquat, but this year the branches are almost bent double with fruit. So, if you are lucky enough to have one, or have a generous neighbor with one, you should definitely try my delicious Loquat and Cranberry Chicken dish.
Update: I just received an email from Alexis who saw the Tallahassee Democrat article today showcasing this post. Alexis says that Loquats are also known as Japanese Plums and that’s what she has called them for years. She also mentioned that Japanese Plums/Loquats make delicious wine…who knew?
The thick sweet/tart sauce is really wonderful paired with crispy chicken and orzo and the dish looks and tastes like a sophisticated dish you would order in a nice restaurant. This recipe does have a few more ingredients and takes a little more time than most of my recipes, but it is worth it. So amaze your family and friends and serve it tonight.
I have to admit, that before this year, I had never even tasted a loquat, and I’ll also say I was a little hesitant at first, but they are surprisingly good. The fruit is slightly sweet but tangy and the texture is similar to an apricot or plum. In fact, if you want to try this recipe and don’t have any loquats, you could substitute apricots or plums. Or, if you have a recipe that uses apricots/plums, I think loquats would be a great substitute.
I must say I felt a little like a farmer today when I went out with a bowl to pick some fruit for this dish. There is really something pretty cool about actually eating something that grows in your yard. It takes the term, “locally sourced food” to a new level.
For the best flavor, loquats should be picked and used when they are yellow. Once they turn orange, they are not quite as flavorful. They should also be used within a week of picking them. I have not tried freezing them yet, but if you do decide to freeze them, remove the seeds and as with most fruit, they should be blanched first. Since we have so much fruit, I am planning to pick some more and freeze it to make jam later.
Loquats have large seeds, which must be removed before cooking with them. To remove the seeds, take a sharp knife and cut around the loquat like you would with an avocado. Open the fruit and pop out the seeds. You do not need to peel them.
The ingredients for Loquat and Cranberry Chicken are ripe loquats, which have been seeded, cranberries, orange juice, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, ground ginger, and ground cinnamon. For the chicken, you need boneless skinless chicken breasts, olive oil, eggs, flour, and panko breadcrumbs. You will also need orzo which has been cooked to serve with your chicken.
To make the Loquat and Cranberry Sauce, place the loquats and cranberries in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add, water, orange juice, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and stir in the ground ginger and ground cinnamon. Reduce the heat and simmer about 30 minutes, or until the loquats are soft. Stir in the apple cider vinegar and lemon juice and mix well.
Remove from the heat and use an immersion blender to puree the sauce to your desired consistency. I like to leave some chunks of fruit. Set the sauce aside while you prepare your chicken.
Your chicken breasts should be about ¼ inch thick for this dish. If they are really thick, simply take a sharp knife and slice them horizontally into 2 or 3 fillets. Or, you can pound them with a meat mallet until they are the thickness you want.
Place the chicken breasts on a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper and season lightly with salt and pepper; coat both sides with flour.
Crack the eggs into a shallow bowl or pie plate. Add water and whisk until they are mixed well.
Pour the panko crumbs on a plate.
Take the chicken breasts, which have been coated with flour and dip into the egg mixture, then dredge both sides in the panko mixture.
Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat and cook the chicken for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until they are golden brown and cooked through. Remove the chicken and keep warm.
Pour ½ of the Loquat and Cranberry Sauce into the skillet, deglaze the pan, scrape up any browned bits and mix well.
To serve, place cooked and drained orzo on a plate, top with a chicken breast and liberally spoon the Loquat and Cranberry Sauce over the top. Garnish with parsley if desired. Enjoy!
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