Brent Foster created a barbeque twist on the classic Michigan cherry salad and complemented the flavors with Mike's Hard Black Cherry Lemonade. Since summers revolve around barbeques and lighter fare, all the elements of this appetizer can be made ahead of time, and the chicken can be served hot, cold or at room temperature.
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Barbecued Chicken and Cherry Bruschetta
Recipe adapted from Brent Foster
Yield: About 30 pieces
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 35 minutes
For the Candied Walnuts:
1 cup raw walnuts, halved
2 tablespoons Sriracha
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup water
For the Blue Cheese-Cherry Spread:
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
½ cup dried cherries
3 tablespoons olive oil
For the Bruschetta:
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
½ cup store-bought or homemade barbecue sauce
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups loosely packed arugula
6 slices applewood-smoked bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 baguette, cut into ½-inch pieces at an angle
1. Make the candied walnuts: Preheat the oven to 350°. Line the baking sheet with parchment and spread the walnuts evenly onto the baking sheet. Toast the walnuts until lightly golden, about 8 to 10 minutes. Place the walnuts in a small bowl and set aside.
2. While the walnuts are roasting, whisk together the Sriracha, both sugars, cinnamon and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the sugars have completely dissolved and the liquid comes to a boil, about 4 to 5 minutes. Pour the glaze over the walnuts. Using a rubber spatula, stir to completely coat the walnuts. Bake the walnuts for another 8 to 10 minutes. Set them aside and let cool completely. Make ahead: Candied walnuts can be made 3 to 4 days ahead and stored in an airtight container.
3. Make the blue cheese-cherry spread: Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth, about 3 to 4 minutes. Make ahead: the spread can be made 5 days ahead and stored in an airtight container.
4. Make the bruschetta: In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, Worcestershire and barbecue sauce to make the marinade. Lay the chicken in a glass or ceramic dish large enough to hold it in a single layer, or place the chicken in a large, resealable plastic bag. Cover the chicken with the barbecue sauce marinade, turning the pieces to coat thoroughly. Chill it for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight.
5. Preheat the oven to 350°. Place baguette slices on a baking sheet and bake them until lightly toasted, about 8 to 10 minutes.
6. In a medium skillet over medium heat, add the bacon and cook, stirring often until the bacon begins to crisp, about 6 minutes. With a slotted spoon, set the bacon aside until it has cooled completely.
7. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill to medium-hot heat for indirect grilling.
8. Remove the chicken from the marinade, letting the excess sauce drip back into the dish or plastic bag. Place the chicken on the grill and cook, covered, until lightly charred, about 5 to 7 minutes. Using tongs, flip the chicken over and continue to cook it until cooked through and lightly charred, another 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the chicken and let it rest for 5 minutes.
9. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, slice it thinly on an angle.
10. To assemble the bruschetta: Spread the blue cheese-cherry spread on bottom of the toasted baguette pieces and top with arugula, some chicken and bacon. Sprinkle with candied walnuts and serve.