with Local Scuppernongs, Muscadines, and Verjus

While we love to serve this dish with the muscadine and scuppernong grapes, when their season has past, we substitute the small champagne grapes instead.

Yield: 4 servings

4 (8-ounce) boneless chicken breast halves, with the first wing joint bone left in

1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt, divided

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

¼ cup peanut oil

2 tablespoons minced shallots

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

24 fresh muscadine grapes (10 ½ ounces total), halved and seeds removed

24 fresh scuppernong grapes (10 ½ ounces total), halved and seeds removed

1 cup verjus or cider vinegar

1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, diced

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

6 cups cooked Anson Mills White Antebellum Grits (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Season the chicken breast halves on all sides with ¾ teaspoon of the salt and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper. Heat the peanut oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken breast, skin-side down, to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes or until the skin is well browned. Turn the chicken and place the skillet in the oven. Roast the chicken for 10 to 12 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a platter and cover to keep warm.

Drain all of the fat out of the skillet except for 1 tablespoon. Place the skillet over medium-high heat and add the shallots and thyme. Cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently, until the shallots are softened. Add the muscadines, scuppernongs, and verjus to the skillet, and bring the mixture to a boil. Allow the mixture to cook until it has reduced by three-fourths, about 15 minutes (about ¼ cup of liquid will be left). Reduce the heat to low and whisk the butter into the verjus mixture, a little at a time, until all of the butter has been added and the sauce is emulsified. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and parsley.

Spoon 1 cup of the grits onto each of six dinner plates. Arrange one chicken breast on each serving of grits and spoon ¼ cup of the sauce over each portion. Serve immediately.


If the grits are going to sit for a while before serving, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the grits and cover. This will keep a skin from forming on the top of the grits as well as help to keep the grits warm.

Yield: about 3 cups or 6 servings

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

½ teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

3 cups chicken broth or stock, divided

1 ½ cups heavy cream

1 cup white Antebellum coarse grits from Anson Mills

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally for 30 seconds, being careful not to burn the garlic.

Add 2 ½ cups of the chicken stock and the heavy cream and bring the mixture to a boil. Upon boiling, add the grits in a slow, steady stream while whisking constantly. Once the mixture returns to a simmer, reduce the heat to low. Cook the grits at a simmer, stirring frequently, for 25 minutes. (The grits will begin to thicken after 10 minutes.) Once the grits begin to look dry, stir in the remaining ½ cup chicken stock and continue cooking for an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until the grits are tender. Season the grits with the salt and pepper and remove from the heat. Serve immediately.

Cooking at Noon - October 14, 2009