20 May 2006

Sweet apple herb chicken

On occasion I happen to think of possible recipes while in the strangest of circumstances. Showering, cleaning the garage or parachuting out the back of a Russian cargo plane with an expensive German sports car are all places that culinary inspiration may strike. This time it struck as I wandered the aisles of Costco, trying to accomplish nothing more complicated than figure out what I could make for dinner with the rather limited ingredients in my refrigerator. While that may sound relatively mundane to you, my test audience is my wife, partly because she’s a picky eater, but mostly because she’s a captive audience. She has yet to spit anything out, although she isn’t hesitant to express her distaste when the situation calls for such. This dish earned accolades though and so I feel confident that you too will enjoy it.

    • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    • 2 celery stalks
    • 2 carrots
    • 1/2 onion, Vidalia, or Maui Sweet if you can get it although any yellow onion will do.
    • 2-3 granny smith apples
    • Kosher salt
    • Black pepper
    • Italian seasoning herb blend
    • Rubbed sage
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons Honey
    • Olive oil
    • Butter
    • Asiago cheese
    • Parmesan cheese
    Preheat oven to 375 F.
  • Trim the chicken breasts of excess fat. Rinse the chicken and pat dry with a paper towel.
  • Season chicken to taste with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and sage. Rub the seasoning blend into the chicken so that it sticks.
  • Dice onion, carrots, celery and apples.
  • In a medium hot skillet or saute pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in two tablespoons of Olive oil.
  • Carefully add chicken to oil and cook about 1 to 2 minutes on both side, just enough to sear and nicely brown the exterior. We're going to finish it in the oven later.
  • Remove chicken to a plate.
  • Add the apples to the same hot skillet without removing any oil or washing it out.
  • Add the honey to the apples and saute for 2-3 minutes stirring frequently
  • Add the carrot, celery and onion to the apples in the skillet, continuing to saute for 3-5 minutes or until onions are translucent.
  • Add apple mixture to a 9x13 casserole dish and arrange the chicken breasts on top of apple mixture.
  • Shred cheese to cover chicken.
  • Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes.
  • Serve with rice, potatoes or gnocchi.
  • Yield: 4

So why use both butter and olive oil? Butter browns nicely and lends a pleasing taste to food, unfortunately, it has a low smoking point and burns quickly. Olive oil combines with butter quickly and easly, increasing the smoke point to manageable levels and lends a subtle aromatic flavor to the finished dish.

Okay, so why both Asiago and Parmesan? This is mostly a matter of taste. I happen to think that asiago compliments parmesan nicely and gives a very subtle nutty flavor to the final product. You can of course use any blend of Asiago, Parmesan or Romano cheese that you desire. Hell, put some thick slices of mozzarella, Colby or monterey jack]over each breast, or even omit the cheese entirely. The cheese is not essential to the flavor of the chicken but each will lend its own subtle flavor to the dish. Although, with the softer cheeses you’ll want to add the cheese right at the end of the cooking period, otherwise you’ll just get a greasy mess.

2 comments:

Ouroboros said...

Apples and Onions are an underrated combination and deserve more praise.
Speaking of which, where is that recipe for gratin potates, apples, and onions? That dish IS the taste of autumn.

Roninspoon said...

That's an excellent question. I should dig around for that.