Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday Food: Maple Walnut Chicken & Cheddar Apple Rice

I come from the land of sweet maple syrup, orchard fresh apples, and sharp white cheddar cheese. We happened to visit that land last week (it's called New Hampshire), so this recipe is a perfect reminder of those culinary bounties. Unfortunately, where I live now, it's harder to find good cheddar and I'm a bit mortified to have had to use bland yellow cheddar for this recipe. Don't do that. Find sharp white cheddar. And use real maple syrup, not the sticky stuff that passes for pancake syrup in some circles. It costs more and may be harder to find, but you'll be glad you made the extra effort.

This recipe came from a magazine, but I'm not sure which one. Maybe Yankee? You'll notice the photo is missing the walnuts, only because I didn't have any on hand. The recipe is yummy with or without the walnuts and the rice would be great comfort food on it's own or as a side dish to a different meal.

Maple Walnut Chicken & Cheddar Apple Rice

1 cup walnut halves
2 Tbsp butter
1 1/4 cups long-grain wild rice
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 apple - peeled, seeded, and chopped
1/2 tsp dill
Salt and coarsely ground black pepper
6 oz sharp white cheddar cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 lbs chicken breasts
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven to 325. Spread walnuts on baking sheet and roast until well toasted and fragrant, 10-12 minutes.
In a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the rice and toast for several minutes. Add 2 cups chicken broth and bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the apple and simmer for 8 minutes. Stir 1/4 cup chicken stock, dill, and 1/4 tsp salt into the rice during the last minute of cooking. Turn off the heat and let the rice stand for 1-2 minutes before fluffing with a fork. Transfer to a serving dish and stir in the cheese.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook, turning once, until browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter.
Add vinegar to the skillet. Cook, scraping the pan drippings, then add the remaining 1/4 cup chicken stock, the maple syrup, and black pepper to taste. Cook until thickened, about 1 minute. Add the chicken and walnuts and spoon with the sauce. Loosely cover the pan with foil and simmer for 5 minutes.
Serve the chicken, sauce, and nuts with the rice alongside.

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