Grapefruit 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, for dredging chicken
- 4-6 Tablespoons butter, depending on if you use a very large pan or split butter between two pans
- 3 Tablespoons regular brandy or Cognac
- 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 or broth
- 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.
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.
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 flambé: 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.