I remember the first (and only) time I went to Hawaii when I was thirteen, and I discovered that sweet potatoes could come in another color besides orange, and that that color could be purple! I had never seen purple food before that wasn't the result of some industrial food dye, and this pretty much blew my mind. Purple food is just fun, especially when it's something that seems like it definitely shouldn't be naturally colored that way, but it is, so you can eat it knowing you aren't also maybe turning your insides into a rainbow.
A food that I already knew fell into this naturally purple camp are concord grapes. I remember the first time I ate one last year, and I kept wondering what it reminded me of, and then I realized it tasted just like a grape jolly rancher! And grape jelly! And the grape juice my grandparents would always have waiting for us when we came to visit! Basically any grape flavored thing you can find in a grocery store, it tastes like these. Which makes sense, since most grape flavoring was designed to mimic the concord grape. But it's also strange, because I feel like outside of grape-flavored products or jelly or juice, it's rare to encounter an actual, real concord grape. Maybe its because in America we tend to prefer our fruit without seeds when possible, or maybe they are mostly used for producing those grape juices and jellies. Whatever the reason I haven't seen them before, they seem to be appearing more frequently in my grocery stores, at least this year. So finally, after seeing them three weeks in a row, I decided to buy some and have some fun.
Several years ago at a restaurant in Sonoma I ordered chicken that had been roasted with grapes. It sounded to me like one of those "Hey it's Northern California, we like grapes!" things but it also just sounded so weird I had to try it. And it was pretty good! Good enough that I immediately thought to replicate it with my concord grapes, just to see what happened. And what happened is that the chicken got crispy and the grapes cooked down into the most fragrant, jammy sauce, and it couldn't be easier. Once again I'm eating purple food and I love it.
Roasted Chicken with Concord Grapes
6 chicken thighs
salt and pepper
2 cups concord grapes
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
fresh lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season chicken generously with salt and pepper and let come to room temperature.
- In a cast iron skillet, toss grapes with a drizzle of olive oil and add the rosemary. Break off a few leaves and scatter around but mostly keep the sprigs whole. Place the chicken thighs on top of the grapes and rosemary, skin side up, and roast 30-35 minutes, broiling the last few minutes to get the chicken nice and golden.
- Squeeze some fresh lemon juice over everything and serve immediately with roasted grapes as a garnish.