Roasted Chicken Breast with Buddha’s Hand Citron, Kumquats and Dates

Some people can’t resist a gorgeous handbag or a swell looking tie. But for me, it’s about food. So, when I saw this strange looking fruit that’s in the top photo yesterday there was no question about it, I had to buy it.

It’s called Buddha’s Finger Citron. A citrus member of course, with skin like lemon, and with a bitter taste. It’s not the kind of fruit you eat out of hand like an orange or pear. In fact, it’s mostly used as a table decoration or cooked as candy (with lots of sugar) or marmalade (with lots of sugar).

I’d used citron before, but only the candied kind (for fruitcake and such). I wasn’t sure what to do with this thing.

Thanks thanks for the internet.

After doing a little research and then getting into experimental mode, I decided to pair it with kumquats, which are also bitter, but also dates, which are devastatingly sweet, so there would be some ying-yang of flavor to the chicken breast I was going to roast for dinner.

The results were delicious. 

The Buddha’s Finger Citron gave a haunting, deep lemony taste to the pan juices. The citron remained bitter, the kind of taste you either love or hate, appealing to those who like candied fruit-studded fruitcake/Panettone/Panforte and so on, or, on the other hand, distressing to those who purposely pick the chopped up candied fruit out of those desserts.

Fortunately (or not) you can make the recipe without the citron — add a strip or two of lemon peel and remove it before serving. 

If you bought one of these too, you can make candy or marmalade. Or use the skin as you would lemon peel (for vinaigrette, marinades, scattered on top of fish, etc.) Or to flavor vodka or a cocktail or holiday punch. 

Roasted Chicken Breast with Buddha’s Hand Citron, Kumquats and Dates

1/4 cup diced Buddha’s hand citron

8-10 kumquats, cut up and seeded

8-12 large Medjool dates, pits removed

1 onion, chopped

2 chicken breasts

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons honey

 

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Place the citron, kumquats, dates and onion in a roasting pan. Place the chicken breasts on top. Rub the surface of the chicken with olive oil. Sprinkle the chicken with salt, pepper, ginger, cinnamon and cumin. Roast for 5 minutes. Turn the heat to 350 degrees. Roast for another 15 minutes. Mix the orange juice and honey and pour over the chicken. Continue to roast, basting occasionally, for another 30 minutes or until the skin is golden brown and the chicken is cooked through (160 degrees on a meat thermometer). Makes 6 servings