Raisins do nothin' for me....

.....UNTIL I re-hydrate them and puree them, that is. Then they are Wondeful!! Prior to that, I call them "flies". I really hate getting a fly in my cookie, or my rice pudding. That's just plain wrong.

About a dozen years ago, when I was working as a catering consultant at BYU, I had myself a raisin epiphany. Why? Because the bakery there made the BEST Oatmeal cookies and one day I discovered that their secret ingredient was....Raisin Puree! SHOCKING!!

Well, since then I have taken it upon myself to DO things to raisins that they may or may not like. Let's face it though...do you really think that the grapes LIKE getting old, wrinkled and pruney? I doubt it. I think of it as giving them a beauty treatment. At the grape SPA (a.k.a. White Grape Juice). And then I give them a new life. A rather mooshy new life I admit, but a tastier one than they had when they were dried, shriveled-up flies.

So, we received a gift basket with random food items for Christmas. Among other things was a package of raisins. Bleh. Of course, the chef in me immediately said..."Puree. I shall make puree." And I put them in the pantry for a future day.

Fast forward to yesterday. I'm looking at the whole raw chicken on my counter and asking it what flavor it wanted to be for dinner that night. Guess what it said to me? "I want raisin puree smothered all over me".

Crazy chicken.

But that got me thinking...what would be good with raisins, on a whole roasted chicken?

And then it hit me...Balsamic Vinegar!! Just about my favorite flavor ever.

I'm telling you what. That chicken WAS a genius. (And he was ALSO delicious).

What I ended up not doing, however, was smothering the bird with raisins. Just other stuff with the Balsamic Vinegar , and then I used the raisin puree to make a sauce that we ate on the chicken AFTER it was cooked. I was worried that the high sugar content in the raisin puree would make the poor thing just burn it if was coated in it. So I opted to make a sauce instead. Good choice.

But because I couldn't leave well enough alone with the balsamic marinade, I added other flavor elements to the mix, like orange and shallot. And then I marinated the whole chicken with the mixture before I baked it with some baby red potatoes.

I also added several other elements to the sauce, one of which is a favorite new ingredient of mine....Fig Butter from Trader Joe's. I'm kind of addicted to it already. I love it on top of sourdough bread toasted with some sliced Havarti cheese....totally delish. Try it for yourself...I'll bet ya like it.

So you are getting two recipes from this post, and they can be used together or independent of each other. The Raisin and Fig Sauce is totally amazing! I'm going to try it on more things this week, so watch for some other recipes using it. For the Sauce recipe, read here. Here is a photo of it drizzled over roasted baby red potatoes:
You can also find the recipe for the Orange Balsamic Roasted Chicken by visiting this post.

Bon Appetit!

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