Ajvar. It sounds like eye-var and is a wonderful condiment/sauce common in Serbian cuisine. It’s made from roasted red peppers, garlic, and eggplant and can be smooth like a slightly thickened tomato sauce or a bit chunky like a salsa. Either way, it’s delicious. Look for it in Middle Eastern grocery stores, other specialty food shops like Texas’ Spec’s, or online.
So, why is it that my children will try new things at other people’s houses, but not mine? Sasha comes home from summer camp boldly declaring that she now likes olives (though she still won’t eat them for me), then all three bravely try the bright orange Ayvar Chicken at my Hungarian friend, Rita’s, house, love it, have seconds, then eat more for breakfast the following day. The upshot here is that I bought Ajvar at Spec’s in San Antonio, brought it home, and roughly recreated Rita’s recipe to rave reviews and sadly, have no leftovers for my breakfast.
Rita is one of those marvelous cooks that creates by feel as much as recipe. She just knows. So a recipe from her is a mere estimation of amounts and ingredients, so what you have here is my take on Rita’s Ajvar Chicken, created with what I had. The verdict is that though my girls agreed that it didn’t taste exactly like Rita’s dish, it was delicious, and again, no leftovers.
Ajvar Chicken: My twist on a Hungarian take on a Serbian ingredient.
- 5 slices smoked bacon
- 1 bunch of green onions, white part only, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2-2″ chunks
- 1 T olive oil (or reserved bacon fat)
- 2 ounces smoked cheese (I used Asiago), grated
- 3/4 cup ajvar
- 1 cup heavy cream (I use half & half)
- *1/2 cup red wine is optional (I didn’t have it, so didn’t use it)
- Cook the bacon in a large pan with deep sides until crispy. Reserve the bacon fat. Chop the bacon and set aside.
- In 1 T bacon fat (or olive oil), cook the chopped chicken until browned on all sides, then set aside.
- Using the same pan, saute the green onions in 1 T bacon fat, stirring so they don’t burn, for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the reserved bacon and stir.
- Add the ajvar and stir.
- Stir in the half & half, then add the chicken and cook for 5-10 minutes, this is when you’d add a bit of red wine if you have it.
- Add the grated cheese and stir until melted and fully incorporated into the sauce.
- Add freshly crushed garlic and stir. The flavor is great. You may also add it with the onions in step 3, but it’s good thrown in at the end – a stronger flavor.
- Serve over your choice of carb. I served it over butter noodles. It would be delicious over rice as well or served along side a green vegetable and with a nice bread to soak up the sauce and “clean your plate” with.