Monday, June 22, 2009

Check the Cupboard

I had every intention to follow Mr. Lieberman's recipe for apricot-glazed chicken with dried plums to the letter (except for the chicken parts-- I already had a Sam's Club-sized bag of frozen boneless skinless breasts in the freezer).

"They" say that the first time you cook a recipe, you should follow it to the letter. On subsequent attempts it's okay to experiment. (I don't know exactly who "they" are, but I think I heard Paula Deen say this once on her show). Frankly, I frequently find myself tweaking most recipes (except for baked goods), even the first time I cook them. But, on Sunday, I was dead set on following "their" advice.

Confident that I had every ingredient my kitchen cupboard/refrigerator/freezer, I set about making this dish for a welcome back meal for hubby, who had been out of town for four days. I set about gathering the rest of my ingredients from my well-stocked kitchen.

Chicken- Check!
Apricot preserves-Check!
Olive Oil-Check!
Fresh Garlic Cloves-Check!
Sage leaves-Check!
Dried plums-Che--- oh, wait. I swore I had a half a box of prunes left... Guess I used them up the last time I made banana bread. Hmm, what to do, what to do-- ah yes! Raisins!
White vinegar-- Nope, but I was going to substitute apple cider vinegar. Oh, where is it! I thought for sure it would be here in the door of the fridge. Hmmm, red wine vinegar, rice wine vinegar... oooo, balsamic vinegar. I'll use that, it's sweet...

Now, the original recipe calls for 2 whole chickens to serve 8 people. I decided to par down the recipe for 5 portions, and used 5 boneless skinless chicken breasts. That being said, I guestimated on the amount of the glaze. In a glass measuring cup, I mixed up about 3/4 cup of the apricot preserves, 1/4 cup of raisins, about 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, four crushed cloves of garlic, leaves from a couple of sprigs of sage (from the herb garden), a dash of balsamic vinegar, and the salt and pepper.

I put the chicken in a 9X13 pan coated with cooking spray, added the chicken, and poured on the glaze, and turned the chicken to coat in in the sauce. I baked it for 40 minutes at 385 degrees. Since I was using skinless chicken, I covered the dish in aluminum foil.

This adaptation turned out really well-- the fresh sage made all the difference. The chicken was moist, but some crispy skin would have been nice. The flavors are best suited for a fall or winter meal. Next time I get a hankering for a fruity chicken dish, I'll use bone-in, skin-on chicken, and make sure to buy some prunes (I mean dried plums-- that sounds much more sophisticated).

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