Sharon Jessup Joyce
Welcome to Season 2 of Always a Good Dinner!
Okay, that isn’t quite what happened, and I know this isn’t a television show. I admit it, I got busy — and I guess everyone else did, too — and I neglected this blog. But now that we’ve all survived a long, cold winter and local garden bounty is just beginning, maybe we can gather around the blog once a week to share some more stories, recipes and photos.
Today’s post is not inspired, but it’s practical. I’m alone at the Nova Scotia house for the week, and I want to spend less time cooking and more time walking the dog, reading, knitting, sewing, writing and enjoying scenes like the one above, from our deck off the kitchen. I turn out to be one of those people who loves to cook for others and can’t be bothered cooking for herself. But chicken and [insert your preferred sides] usually appeals to me, and I’ll do it for myself if I can cook up a lot of chicken and freeze it in a format that reheats well. Fortunately, boneless, skinless chicken breasts were on sale at our local Atlantic Superstore — or Loblaws, as we call it in Ontario — so I picked up eight and used ingredients I happened to have on hand to bake the chicken two ways. I know the first dish features fall flavours, but I wanted to use up ingredients I had languishing in the fridge (another downside to cooking for one).
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of icky bits
- 1 cooking or white onion, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed or diced (optional)
- 3 apples; I used Macs, because that’s what I had on hand
- Several leaves fresh sage; I used rosemary, since I had no sage, but this dish is better with sage
- Several sprigs fresh thyme (be more generous with the thyme than with sage or rosemary)
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup boiled apple cider
- 1 ounce Calvados (French apple brandy)
- Salt and pepper
- Brush sides and bottom of baking dish with about 1 tablespoon olive oil.
- Slice onion, dice garlic and slice peeled apples; lay in layers on bottom of dish.
- Lay herbs on top of onion and apple slices.
- Lay chicken breasts on top.
- Mix remaining olive oil, mustard, vinegar, cider and Calvados and pour over chicken.
- If desired, season with salt and pepper.
- Bake, covered, in a 350 degree oven for about 30-35 minutes; remove cover and turn chicken breasts over (don’t worry if other components are disarranged) and bake for another 10 minutes.
You can refrigerate this for 3 days, or package it up right away for the freezer. When you reheat this dish, pick out and discard sage leaves and thyme twigs, and set the chicken aside. Mix about a tablespoon of corn starch with about 1/4 cup chicken stock, cream or more cider with Calvados (about half and half) and add to the saved pan juices, apples and onions. Pour the mixture over the chicken breasts and heat for about 20 minutes in a 325-degree oven. This is really nice with mashed potatoes and a little salad, but it goes with lots of things. If you eat it by itself, which I did today, you can call the onion and apple slices your side dish.
Chicken breasts with southwest flavours
No recipe is required for this dish. I brushed a baking dish with olive oil. Then I diced some leftover items from the fridge: a jalapeno pepper, half a sweet red pepper, half an onion and a handful of cilantro. I put the chicken pieces (breasts sliced in 3-4 pieces and tenderloins, so all the pieces would be about the same size) on top of the veggies. I brushed the pieces with a bit of olive oil and squeezed the juice of one-half lime over them. Then I sprinkled the chicken with salt, pepper, chipotle chili powder and just a bit of maple sugar. I baked the chicken, uncovered, for 30 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Again, I kept all the pan juices and veggie bits when I packaged the chicken in bags for the freezer.
You can do about a million things with these southwest chicken pieces. My favourite is to serve them over rice and corn with a dollop of sour cream, a spoonful of homemade salsa, a sprinkle of fresh cilantro, diced scallions and just a squeeze of lime.
And the crows love the chicken scraps, as you see. Here is today’s sentry, who has called the flock, but lands first to score the biggest piece.
|Sharon lives in Kingston, Ontario, but is presently spending a month at the family’s Nova Scotia coastal cottage, and promises to post a fish dish soon.|
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