Chicken with Apricots
From The Minimalist Cooks Dinner (Canada, UK), by Mark Bittman.
Chicken with dried apricots is hardly a new idea, but it's almost always too sweet, and the routine addition of cinnamon and cloves makes the whole thing taste more like dessert than dinner. Take them away, add a little vinegar to counter the fruit's sweetness, improve and simplify the cooking technique, and you have an attractive dish for a winter meal.
Keys To Success:
Here, the chicken is carefully browned, then turned skin-side up and braised in the apricots and the liquid. Do not turn it again, so the skin remains nicely browned and even a little crisp, rather than becoming mushy.
Fruit that has been dried with sulfur the most common method is moister and much faster to tenderize than fruit dried organically, which will need at least a couple of hours of soaking before cooking.
1 cup dried apricots or other dried fruit
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup fruity red wine
1 chicken, about 3 pounds, cut into serving pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
Put the apricots in a small bowl (or a 2-cup measure) and add the vinegar, wine, and water to cover, about 1/4 cup. Let soak while you brown the chicken.
Turn the heat to medium-high under a 12-inch nonstick skillet and add the chicken, skin side down. Cook, rotating the pieces (not turning them) so they brown evenly. When they are nicely browned 10 to 15 minutes turn them so they are skin side up, and season with salt and pepper. Make a little space in which you can add the onion and cook, stirring the onion occasionally, until it has softened a bit, 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the apricots and their liquid and bring to a boil. Cook for a minute, then turn the heat to low, and cover. Cook until the chicken is done, 15 to 20 minutes; do not turn while it is cooking. Remove the lid, raise the heat and season the chicken well with salt and pepper. Boil out any excess liquid; you do not want the sauce to be too watery. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary, and serve.
Yield: Makes 4 servings