This morning when Mark and I went to the Melrose Place farmers' market, I spotted the cutest little head of red cabbage. I just so happened to have a big jug of apple cider in the refrigerator that I had used the other night for dinner when our friend Jack came over. Red cabbage is kind of fantastic when it's sauteed in apple cider and spiced with caraway seeds.
Upon returning home, I perused Epicurious to get some ideas for what to serve along with the cabbage. I mean, I can't just have cabbage for dinner. Eventually I discovered this interesting recipe. Although the currants seems sort of Christmasy, I decided to give it a try. Plus I've always wanted to try stuffing a chicken breast with something.
1 Granny Smith apple, cored, peeled and finely chopped (do this at the last minute, so the apple does not discolor)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 celery ribs, finelyt diced
1/2 cup coarse fresh rye bread crumbs (with or without seeds)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons dried currants
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
(For the stuffing)
Melt butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté caraway seeds, stirring, 1 minute. Add onion and sauté, stirring, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add apple and celery and sauté, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in remaining stuffing ingredients. Cool stuffing completely.
Next you need to stuff the chicken breasts. The recipe calls for 6 of them, but I only had three on hand and also it's not like I was hosting a dinner party or something. Rather than cutting a slit into the side of the breast to form a little pocket, I decided to place the breasts between two sheets of cling flim and just pound them thin.
Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Spoon some of the stuffing down the center of the breasts and fold over. Use several toothpicks to fasten the breasts shut.
I'm not sure what they are doing to chickens these days to give them such ample bosoms, but after I stuffed two, I decided to stop. I'll probably use the rest of the stuffing and the other breast later in the week.
(For the chicken)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy oven-safe skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown chicken, about 2 minutes on each side.
Transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast chicken in middle of oven until just cooked through, 14 to 16 minutes.
Remove chicken from the oven and set aside, covered with foil. Return the skillet to stovetop to make the pan sauce. Over moderately low heat stir flour into the fat remaining in skillet and cook roux, stirring, 1 minute. Whisk in cider, broth and any juices that may have accumulated from the chicken. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened and reduced to about 1 cup, about 6 minutes. Taste for seasonings.
Cut the chicken breasts into 1 inch thick slices and serve drizzled with the pan sauce.
Along with the chicken and the sauteed cabbage, I roasted some sweet potatoes which I tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper and some dill.
The chicken was moist and perfectly cooked, the pan sauce was sweet but not terrbily so and the stuffing was excellent. The currants were a little tart, the apples still had some body and caraway seed nicely tied the chicken to the cabbage in a way that didn't feel redundant.
In the end just one of these mega-breasts ended up being more than enough for Mark and myself. Thank heavens for left overs.