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Chicken with Apricots
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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.

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

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

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