Cut Through The Richness Of Roast Chicken With Tart Blackberries

Roast chicken is a go-to centerpiece of many meals, often for the sake of convenience. After all, they're available already cooked, piping hot, and ready for quick pickups at most mainstream supermarkets. However, buying pre-cooked chickens may mean missing out on some pretty tasty flavor combos.

As a fairly basic dish, roast chicken pairs well with other staples, such as potatoes, rice, and fresh vegetables. But, let's face it: Chicken prepared that way has a simplicity that sometimes borders on blasé or leans too heavily on rich, savory flavors with no counterbalance. The potential for greatly enhancing those flavor profiles may be overlooked, but it's actually quite easy to lift those full chickens to culinary glory. It only takes some readily available and easily incorporated fruit, such as tantalizingly sweet and slightly tart blackberries.

Blackberries in season are the ultimate chicken transformer and, fortunately, those luscious deep purple beauties freeze well. Produce manufacturers are on that bandwagon, stocking countless bags of frozen blackberries in most grocery freezer bins. Even an altered texture from freezing matters very little when using them on a roast chicken, since they're incorporated into a sticky, mouthwatering glaze that caramelizes as the fruit breaks down. The mixture of sweet, fruity, and tart characteristics in a blackberry-glazed roast chicken are the perfect counterbalance to what could otherwise be a forgettable meal. 

Roasting chicken with blackberries and other fruits

Glazing is nothing new, appearing on everything from honey-glazed holiday hams to candied yams and powdered sugar-glazed cakes and doughnuts. Similar to honey glazes, fruit-based glazes add that extra level of sweet complexity to savory roast chicken — but when using blackberries, it comes with a twist of berry tartness. The juiciness of fruit enhances the consistency of any glaze you create, increasing the chances of it permeating the chicken meat while caramelizing the outer skin.

There's always a fine line when using glazes; one that, when crossed, can tip to the side of excessively sweet. The slight tartness of blackberries alleviates that danger, but it can still happen. An easy fix is to add counteracting spices or herbs that still complement poultry, such as rosemary or sage. You can also experiment with adding condiments, such as honey mustard or lemon-based herbal sauces. 

Although blackberries have prime potential for roast-chicken perfection, remember that they aren't the only fruits with glaze potential. Consider other tangy, sweet, or sassy fruits such as pineapples, lemons, mangos, and cranberries. You've likely tasted subtly glazed poultry dishes like Chinese orange chicken or Thai foods coated in lime and ginger glazes. BBQ sauces can also serve as glazes when infused with fruit preserves or pureed fruits such as strawberries, mangoes, and yes, blackberries. Just get creative, and don't be afraid to glaze with gusto — you can always dial it back if necessary on your next go-round.