The top finisher in FruitFast’s inaugural Berry Cherry Challenge was a hands-down winner. Four judges individually selected the main course recipe from 12 semi-finalist entrées and desserts.
Contest judge – and National Cherry Festival Queen – Maria LaCross summed up best her major criteria in the selection process; “Which contest recipe would you most like to have another helping of?” And they all did …
First Place winner - Mary Shivers
Coconut-Cashew Chicken with Spicy Cilantro Cherry Sauce
Non-stick cooking spray
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, pounded to 1/2-inch thickness
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups Nature’s Hand Coconut Cashew Granola
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 tsp parsley flakes
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup FruitFast Dried Tart Cherries, chopped (divided use)
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 of a large dried ancho chili pepper, stemmed and seeded
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup minced onion
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp water
4 cilantro sprigs
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Spray a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
Pat chicken dry with paper towels.
Stir egg and milk together in a pie plate.
Pulse granola in a food processor for 10-20 seconds until consistency of crumbs.
Pour into a large bowl and stir in flour, garlic powder, cayenne, parsley flakes, salt and pepper.
Dip both sides of chicken in egg mixture then in granola mixture, coating completely.
Place chicken 1/2-inch apart in a prepared baking dish.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until juices run clear. Meanwhile, for sauce, in a food processor or blender, puree 1/4 cup dried cherries, chicken broth, dried ancho chili pepper, garlic, and onion until smooth.
Pour into a 1-quart saucepan. Stir in cherry juice concentrate, salt, and brown sugar.
Cook over medium heat until mixture begins to boil, stirring often. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 6-8 minutes.
Stir in remaining cherries and cilantro. In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch and water together. Stir into mixture. Cook and stir until mixture thickens.
To serve, place each chicken breast on a serving plate. Top with sauce as desired. Serve remaining sauce on the side. Garnish with cilantro sprigs. Serve immediately.