More than once during my
lifetime of Thanksgiving feasts, I remember scraping up the last bits of
turkey, dumplings, and sauerkraut from my plate (my dad was German) and being
startled by my mom’s voice as she yelled out, “The cranberries! We forgot the
cranberries!” And sure enough, the cut glass dish that always held the bright
red berry sauce would be on a shelf in the refrigerator. If only my mom had
thought to use that forgotten sauce in another way. She could have mixed the
sauce into a jello salad to go with the sandwiches we made the next day with
the leftover turkey. Or she could have simmered some little smokies in the
sauce for us to nibble on during the television football games. Or she could
have made an impressive meal of chicken breasts with a creamy cranberry sauce.
When combined with sautéed
shallots and then simmered in chicken broth and whipping cream, Sweet
Apple-Cranberry Sauce that goes so well with the Apple Baby Cakes that I
featured in my All About Food column, becomes an elegant buttery blanket for
moist, golden chicken breasts. Just enough cranberries along with tangy
raspberry vinegar give fresh tartness to the creamy sauce.
If you’ve never tried
raspberry vinegar, you’ll enjoy experimenting with it. I bought my first bottle
of Thomson Berry Farms raspberry vinegar years ago when a friend shared a
recipe for Strawberry Spinach Salad with a creamy poppy seed dressing that
called for the special vinegar. And that’s when I got hooked. I use it often to
make simple vinaigrette. It’s delicious splashed over fresh asparagus hot off
the grill. When you make your holiday cranberry sauce, use raspberry vinegar to
replace half the water in your recipe. It produces an extra fresh fruity tang.
Just don’t forget the chilled sauce in the refrigerator.
Sweet Apple-Cranberry Sauce
is no more difficult to make than the traditional cranberry sauce that you are
used to cooking up. I love it nestled up against the Apple Baby Cakes (click
here for recipe). It’s decadent stirred into a bowl of hot oatmeal.
Turn it into a savory cream
sauce and it’s irresistible.
I served the Chicken Breasts
in Sweet Apple-Cranberry Cream with wild rice. After cooking the rice in
chicken broth, I stirred in a little olive oil, orange juice, chopped fresh
parsley, grated orange zest, chopped green onions and chopped pecans, and then
seasoned it with salt and pepper.
Any leftovers keep well in
the refrigerator and heat up nicely for lunch the next day.
Chicken Breasts in Sweet
- 1 cup Sweet Apple-Cranberry
Sauce (click here for Sauce recipe)
- 3 tablespoons Cognac
- 2 tablespoons Triple Sec or
other orange-flavored liqueur
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted
- 2/3 cup raspberry vinegar
- 2 large shallots, minced
- 1½ cups chicken broth
- 1½ cups heavy whipping cream
Combine Sauce, Cognac and orange liqueur
in a small bowl. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 30
Fold a large sheet of waxed
paper in half. Unfold, and lay the waxed paper on work surface. Measure flour,
salt, pepper and paprika onto the waxed paper. Mix with a fork until blended.
Rinse chicken breasts. Place
the chicken breasts in a heavy freezer-strength zip-top bag. Use a meat mallet
or rolling pin to pound the chicken breasts so they are an even thickness.
Remove chicken breasts from bag. Dredge each breast with flour mixture on waxed
Heat olive oil and butter in
large skillet over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add chicken breasts and
cook abut 5 minutes on each side until done. Use an instant-read digital
thermometer to check temperature. Poke thermometer halfway into each chicken breast. When the temperature registers 160 to 165
degrees, transfer chicken breasts to a plate, leaving drippings in the skillet.
Cover with aluminum foil and keep warm in a 200-degree oven.
Add shallots to hot
drippings in skillet and sauté for 2 minutes. Add vinegar to drippings in hot
skillet, deglazing by scraping up the particles that cling to the bottom. Add
Sweet Apple-Cranberry Sauce mixture. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer,
uncovered, 5 minutes. Add chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and
simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes or until broth reduces by about half. Gradually
add whipping cream, stirring constantly. Cook over medium heat, stirring, for
about 10 minutes or until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Spoon sauce over
chicken breasts. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
- If you prefer not to use
alcohol, replace it with ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice and the grated
zest of one orange.
- Shallots are often used in
French cooking and are favored by cooks because they combine the flavors
of onion and garlic in such a delicate way. You will often find them in the
produce department of the grocery store in small mesh bags with two or three in
a bag. If they are unavailable, substitute the white part of green onions.