Grapefruit Chicken (Poulet au Pamplemousse)

Grapefruit Chicken finished portraitGrapefruit Chicken was my signature dish during the early years of my marriage. My husband and I both loved it, as did several of our relatives and friends. It was the entrée I most often made to impress. I realized that I hadn’t made this dish for a long while, so decided to make it as this year’s Valentine’s Day dinner. Hubby was very happy!

Based on a French recipe, Grapefruit Chicken takes chicken to a new height combining the sweet and sour of pink or red grapefruit with the delicious flavors of sherry and brandy soaking succulent chicken. In addition, this dish includes a flambé step, which my husband always wants to participate in. He has always been fascinated by fire, and has been known to flambé things not normally set ablaze. Only food, though. He’s not an arsonist. Here is the recipe:

  • 1 medium chicken, cut up into individual parts (with bones and skin)
  • ½ cup flour
  • 4-6 Tablespoons butter, depending on if you use a very large pan or split butter between two pans
  • 2 Tablespoons regular brandy or Cognac (I use a touch more)
  • 1 wine glass full of sherry (about 5 fluid oz. or 145 milliliters)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 large or 3 medium grapefruit (pink or red), half juiced and half with sections removed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional – ½ teaspoon corn starch dissolved in 1 Tablespoon water
  • Optional – Sprigs of parsley for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C). Cut up chicken, or buy one that’s already cut up (2 breast halves, thighs, drumsticks, and wings, all with skin and bone). If the breast halves are large, they can be split in half.  Salt and pepper pieces and then lightly coat them with flour.

Grapefruit Chicken floured

Melt 4 tablespoons butter, and heat until bubbling hot in a very large oven-safe frying pan over medium-high heat (or put 3 tablespoons butter in each of two medium-sized oven safe frying pans, whichever accommodates all chicken pieces). Brown chicken pieces in butter on all sides, turning down heat if necessary, to ensure butter doesn’t burn. After the chicken pieces are browned evenly, remove from heat/turn off burner. If desired, remove chicken temporarily and pour off all but 1-2 tablespoons pan fats. Return chicken to pan(s). Pour the brandy over the chicken (dividing brandy, if using two pans) and flambé. See note below if you’ve never flambéed.

Once the flames have subsided, cover the pan(s) with foil or oven-safe lid(s) and bake in the oven until the chicken is tender and cooked through – about 30 to 40 minutes (or 165 F or 75 C with meat thermometer).

While the chicken is baking, prepare the grapefruit for later use. Squeeze juice from one large grapefruit (or 1.5 medium sized) and reserve, discarding seeds. Skin the second large grapefruit (or 1.5 medium sized) – removing the pith – and carefully cutting out sections from membrane, reserving sections separately from the juice.

Grapefruit sections

Remove the cooked chicken from the pan(s) and set aside in a large serving dish, keeping warm. [If you’ve been using two pans, pour all of the juices into one of the pans.] Prepare the sauce in the frying pan (with juices) over high heat. First add the sherry to the pan, then the chicken broth and grapefruit juice. Salt and pepper to taste. Boil until the liquid is reduced by half. [Optional: If you’d like a slightly thicker sauce, you can add ½ teaspoon corn starch that was dissolved in a tablespoon of water.] Add the prepared grapefruit sections to the sauce. Cook 2 more minutes, and then pour all of the finished sauce over the chicken in the serving dish. Garnish, if desired, with fresh sprigs of parsley.

Tastes great served with steamed green beans and parsley potatoes, and perhaps baguette. Serves 4 to 6.


Notes on flambéing: If you have never flambéed such a dish before, be sure that no flammable items are too close to the pan(s). Also be sure any gas burners are turned off. Pour the brandy/Cognac evenly on top of the chicken, and then light (immediately after) standing a safe distance from the pan. I suggest using a long match or lighter stick. Do not add more liquor to the flaming pan! Wait until the flames have subsided before proceeding with the next step.

10 thoughts on “Grapefruit Chicken (Poulet au Pamplemousse)

  1. Nel February 15, 2018 / 6:51 pm

    Looks yummy! I would love to try that when I can have alcohol again and probably without the flambe step cause we don’t have one of those fans that could just suck up the fumes over our stove unfortunately yet. Thanks for sharing this recipe Cindy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight February 15, 2018 / 6:59 pm

      Thanks, Nel. And you could surely eliminate the flambe step. It’s not crucial. There’s not a lot of brandy in it, and some of it can cook off during the boiling of the sherry, chicken broth, and grapefruit juice.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nel February 15, 2018 / 7:39 pm

        Good to know. Thanks, Cindy!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Karin, theaustriandish February 15, 2018 / 7:15 pm

    That looks awesome. I know this dish made with oranges, but never tried grapefruits… And flambé makes it look very spectacular!

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight February 15, 2018 / 7:32 pm

      It is fun to flambe! Really, the pink or red grapefruit is a wonderful complement to chicken, particularly with the Cognac and sherry. I happen to really like sweet tart. It’s not too tart at all, though. It’s a great mid-way between an orange-based and lemon-based chicken dish. As you see, there aren’t that many ingredients. No need for any onions or similar flavors.

      Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight February 15, 2018 / 8:25 pm

        I have never made Crepe Suzette, but have wanted to. I do make crepes somewhat frequently, but we just eat them for breakfast with preserves and fruit, cinnamon and sugar, lemon juice and sugar, or Nutella. I have made crepe manicotti, which are extremely delicious. Also an Asian inspired dish with shrimp wrapped in crepes. Maybe a long time ago I made a chicken filling for crepes. I’ve also had them with ice cream and fruit. Hubby likes them a lot. I guess they’re pretty popular throughout Europe. No? Most people in the US know what they are, but don’t really eat French-style crepes. You probably know about the American fluffy pancakes served with maple syrup. I prefer crepes.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Karin, theaustriandish February 15, 2018 / 9:36 pm

        In Austria we call crepes Palatschinken. It’s a Czech word, I think, and we have it with all kind of stuffings: Quark, apricot jam (very popular), spinach with goat-cheese etc. In Vienna is a restaurant which serves only Palatschinken in dozens of different variations. But here we don’t have them for breakfast, but – with a piquant stuffing – for dinner or lunch, or – with ice cream or jam etc. – for dessert. Or as soup add-in. They are not as fluffy as American pancakes, which I know from the movies.

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight February 15, 2018 / 10:13 pm

        Oh yes! Czechs call them palačinky (with the č pronounced like the English “ch”, which you probably already know). From what my husband says, they are usually only served as desserts and definitely not breakfast. I’m not sure if they make them stuffed with meats or savory stuff for dinner. I’ll have to ask him. I make the choice to serve them as a breakfast, because I like sweet stuff for breakfast. As I said, I have made them for dinner stuffed with meats, etc.

        Americans do vary their breakfast pancakes. Usually they are plain, but when they have fruit like blueberries and bananas in them I like them. Sometimes they use different grains like buckwheat or cornmeal, which are good. Sometimes we make pancake-like stuff for dinner, like pancakes with real corn in them. Have you ever had mashed potato pancakes? They’re yummy! And of course we have other things like crab cakes, which are a little like a pancake thing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Karin, theaustriandish February 16, 2018 / 7:49 am

        That’s interesting. I have never heard of mashed potato pancakes. My mum used to make patties from mashed potatoes, but they were not sweet but a kind of side dish to meat. Crab cakes I had to google. But they look very yummy!

        Liked by 1 person

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