Autumn’s apple abundance warrants this weekend’s collection on behalf of the Backyard Orchard Community Cider Project. Read more in this week’s food section about the partnership between Ashland Food Co-op and Apple Outlaw that’s turning unwanted fruit into a limited-release, alcoholic beverage.
With a decades-old tree in a corner of my garden, I also could contribute fruit to the cause. Bug-damaged fruit is welcome in the cider recipe, which ensures that harmful bacteria are neutralized.
But our apples are so delicious, particularly after a cold snap, that I’m loathe to part with them. Although a good half of the fruit on the tree is less than perfect, the few pristine apples are treasures that my 3-year-old son relishes biting right into and gnawing down to the cores.
For fruits that aren’t in prime condition, I plan small batches of applesauce or other dishes that call for cooking the fruit. This recipe, courtesy of Tribune News Service, would be ideal. It also makes good use of cider. Feel free to substitute the hard stuff, so long as it’s not too tart or dry.
Tribune News Service photo
Chicken Breast With Cider and Caramelized Apples
1/4 cup dark raisins
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup Madeira or port wine
6 boneless chicken breasts with skin
1 tablespoon five-spice powder, divided
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 large tart apples, peeled (with peels reserved), cored and cut lengthwise into eighths
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup apple cider or apple-cider vinegar
2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup honey
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh, flat-leaf Italian parsley
1 tablespoon candied orange peel (optional)
In a bowl, combine the dark and golden raisins, wine and ½ cup boiling water. Let stand for 20 minutes, or until raisins are fully plumped.
Meanwhile, heat oven to 425 F.
Season the chicken breasts with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the five-spice powder, the 2 teaspoons salt and the black pepper to taste.
In a large, ovenproof sauté pan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Place chicken breasts — skin sides down — in pan and cook until well-browned and most fat has cooked out of skin, for about 5 minutes. Turn breasts over and pour off any excess fat.
Add the apple peels to pan, slipping them under chicken breasts. Place pan in preheated oven and bake until chicken breasts are cooked through, for about 15 to 18 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted at thickest part reads 165 F. Transfer chicken to a warmed serving platter and cover to keep warm. Leave apple peels in pan.
Dust apple peels with flour. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Pour in the cider or cider vinegar and deglaze pan, stirring to scrape up any bits stuck to pan bottom. Cook until liquid is reduced by half, for about 5 minutes. Add the broth, bring to a boil, and decrease heat to medium so liquid simmers gently.
In a second sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt 3 more tablespoons butter until butter is brown and smells toasty, for 2 to 3 minutes (do not allow it to burn). Add the apples, honey, lemon juice and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons five-spice powder. Sauté apples, turning them as needed, until they are a rich, even-brown color and are tender, for 5 to 8 minutes. Season with pepper.
Pour any juice released from chicken into pan with apples. Arrange chicken on platter and top with caramelized apples. Drain off any liquid from raisins and sprinkle raisins on top of chicken.
Add remaining 1 tablespoon of butter to pan with simmering liquid and stir until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour sauce through a fine-mesh sieve over chicken and apples. Garnish with the parsley and, if desired, candied orange peel.
Makes 6 servings.
Recipe adapted by the Detroit Free Press from “An Apple Harvest” by Frank Browning & Sharon Silva (Ten Speed Press, $16.99).