Currently, I am aboard the Ama Viola on a Danube cruise from Vilshofen to Budapest.
We recently stopped to visit this lovely village in the picturesque Wachau valley. Dürnstein is a charming medieval place clinging to craggy rocks above the Danube.
Once we docked the boat in the area, one of the tour options from Ama Waterways was to participate in an apricot tasting.
Along with wine producing, this region is rife with apricot products. Apricots in Austria are called Marillen. How this area became Apricot product heaven started with a wine grower's worst nightmare. One season their vines were destroyed by a disease.
Producers were forced to find other means of income so they tuned to the apricot trees. It was a challenge that has produced the most gorgeous and creative products now on ample display in the town ripe for the visitor's picking.
We sampled apricot brandy, liqueur, roasted and apricot kernels both roasted and salted and alternately smothered in chocolate.
The town is small but aside from the apricot stars of the show, the town features other beautiful opportunities to explore. You can hike up to the castle ruin dating back to 1100 where England's King Richard I was held captive.
Stroll along the main street where you can have your pick of apricot products as well as some interesting other regional specialties. I picked up a bottle of blue poppy seed oil. There are all sorts of cute shops selling souvenirs and handmade goods.
The Baroque style Dürnstein Abby is definitely worth a visit as well.
On to the recipe. I was consoling myself amidst our cold dark winter by thinking about bright savory entrees for Easter posts.
This is a beautiful recipe for your holiday brunch. Chicken breasts smothered in tangy, slightly sweet apricot cream sauce that is tinged with thyme.
If I had visited Dürnstein before I made this, a shot of Dünstein's apricot liqueur would definitely be added in making the sauce.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Yield: 4 servingsIngredients:
- 4 chicken breasts
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- one 15 oz can of apricots
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, divided. Plus some sprigs for garnish.
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
- 1 small white onion, peeled and chopped into small pieces
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 3/4 cup white wine
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 -1 teaspoon white granulated sugar
- Wash the chicken breasts and pat them dry with a paper towel.
- Season the chicken on both sides with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and set aside.
- Drain the apricots, reserving 1/3 cup of the nectar. Discard the rest or keep for future use.
- Place the apricots in a blender or food processor and puree.
- Heat the butter in a large skillet. Add one tablespoon of the thyme leaves and saute.
- Add the chicken breasts to the skillet and cook on both sides.
- Transfer the chicken breasts to a plate, cover with aluminum foil and stow in a warm place.
- Add the minced garlic to the pan and stir until it releases its aroma.
- Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently until they become transparent.
- Add the white wine to the pan and deglaze.
- Stir in the chicken broth and heavy cream and bring to a boil.
- Add the apricot puree to the pan and stir to combine. Let cook for 5 minutes.
- Season with salt, pepper, apricot nectar, and sugar and to taste.
- Reduce the heat and let simmer for 15 minutes.
- Stir in the remaining two tablespoons of thyme leaves.
- Add the chicken breasts, stir to coat and let the mixture simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat, transfer to a serving platter, garnish with fresh thyme sprigs and serve.