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
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
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.