Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Chicken with Apple Cranberry Chutney and Wild Rice

Part of the reason I started this blog was to give myself an incentive to create my own recipes instead of always relying on a cookbook or something shiny I found on the internet.  A few days ago, I saw one of the challengers on Iron Chef America toss some apples into a pan and flambe them in some kind of booze that I don't normally drink.  I was inspired!  I decided to try my hand at making an apple and cranberry chutney with some brandy in it.  No flambeing was involved, and for that my eyebrows and face are grateful.  I read some basics about making chutney and gleaned that most chutneys are sweet and sour with a ratio of vinegar, sugar, and water or broth with some garlic and/or ginger and fruit.  I figured that since I was using two types of fruit (and the dried cranberries had added sugar already), that I could omit the sugar and used a combination of vinegar, water, and the cheapest brandy I could find to make my chutney.  The result of my experiment was most definitely food, but I can see many ways that I could improve upon it by making a few small changes. 

This chicken must have died from roid rage because the breasts were humongous.  They were so big that instead of using one per person, I just cut one in half. 

The apples and cranberries cooked very nicely.  I was concerned that the dried cranberries wouldn't soften, and they did.  The sauce reduced well and smelled wonderful, especially after I added a few dashes of cinnamon.  The sauce was tart but not overpowering, and the slight hint of brandy flavor provided some needed complexity. 

I used a 2:1 ratio for water to vinegar, since that's what the almighty internet told me was correct.  I think that using chicken broth instead of plain water would have balanced the tartness. When I think of dishes I want to make, my brain tends to go into overdrive and I've got a recipe that calls for half the produce in my fridge and my entire spice rack.  So I told myself that I would try and keep it simple.  In this case, I should have let it be a little more complicated.  I think adding some of the spices from the chicken spice rub would have helped tie the dish together. 

I'll post the recipe as I made it, but there are some changes I would make if I did it again.  First, I would substitute chicken broth for water for added flavor.  Second, I would add some spices, most likely some of the ones I used to rub on the chicken.  Third, I'd use more onion and add some ginger.  Fourth, I'd cut the apple into smaller cubes. Lastly, I'd add a little bit more brandy. 

Chicken with Apple Cranberry Chutney
Original recipe
Serves 2
Chutney Ingredients:
1 granny smith apple, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
A few handfuls of dried cranberries, slightly less cranberries than cubed apple
1/8 c  cheap brandy
1/2 c white wine vinegar
1/4 c water
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
a pinch or two of cinnamon
1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1)  Heat the olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat.  Add garlic and onions, and saute until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes.
2)  Add the brandy and allow it to reduce until it's almost gone.  Then add the vinegar and water and bring to a simmer. 
3)  Toss in the apples and cranberries and stir well.   Return it to a simmer, cover, and cook at a simmer for 15 minutes. 
4)  Uncover the pan and allow it to simmer for another 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the cinnamon when there are about 5 minutes left on the timer
Chicken Ingredients:
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts 
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground star anise
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp salt
a few dashes of cayenne pepper

1) Pound the chicken until it's about 1/2 inch thick. 
2) Combine spices in a small bowl and then rub evenly on the chicken.  
3) Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet and cook the chicken through, about 4 minutes each side.
4) Serve the chicken with the chutney on top.  Chopped parsley garnish is optional. 

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