Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cran-Apple Crocked Chicken

When my husband and I got married, we received a wonderful recipe album set created by some of the scrapbook industry's most talented artists. (I was an editor at Creating Keepsakes.) Approximately 20 women created at least 40 6x6 scrapbook pages of their favorite recipes. The pages were combined into three small albums. The gift rendered me speechless and teary-eyed, which is quite the feat. It was one of the most thoughful gifts I have ever received.
I have turned to that album again and again. My husband loves Allison's chicken logs in cheese sauce. I fell in love with Beth's cranberry-sauced pork tenderloin, which I've made at least a dozen times. I wanted to take the idea of that recipe and create my own version. That brings me to this recipe, which was an absolute success, according to my husband. Enjoy!

Cran-Apple Crocked Chicken

4 chicken breasts, trimmed
1 can cranberry sauce
1/2 cup apple sauce
1 small apple, peeled and diced (about 3/4 cup)
1/3 cup onion, diced
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp sherry
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp chipotle powder

1. Combine all ingredients except the chicken in the crock pot. Add chicken and stir to coat. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours or until chicken is cooked and begins to fall apart in the sauce.
2. Just before serving, spoon about 2 cups of the sauce into a saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and simmer until sauce begins to reduce and thicken, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Serve sauce on the side or over potatoes.

Substitution Suggestions: This recipe will work equally well with a pork tenderloin. If you don't have chipotle powder, ground black pepper will work equally well. I just prefer chipotle.

Lessons Learned: This recipe really is as straight-forward as it sounds. If I had an emulsion blender (which I'm hoping to get for Christmas!), I would puree the sauce before I reduced it. Leave it chunky if you prefer a more rustic "gravy." If you don't have an emulsion blender, you can use a regular blender.
The canned cranberry sauce can be whole berry or smooth depending on your personal preference. And, you can leave the skin on the apple if you're not in the mood to peel it.
The recipe from which I drew my inspiration did not have apple sauce, sherry or garlic, but did include dried apricots, ginger, shallots and orange juice. If you didn't want to use apples, you could use a peach puree and dried peaches. Pears might also work.

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