Looking for ways to reinvent the same old chicken breast? This week’s recipe features simple, pan sautéed chicken, wrapped in the warm, hearty flavors of fall: almonds and apricots. It’s a perfect cool weather dish that is anything but boring.
The secret to this dish is the rich, flavorful marinade created by combining apple cider vinegar with apricot jam. The balance of sweet and acidic flavors permeates the chicken, which remains tender and moist. For those who are creative and want to experiment, you can substitute other combinations like black cherry jam and red wine vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar is among the less expensive vinegars and is best reserved for marinades, rather than vinaigrettes. The vinegar is produced, as its name suggests, by fermenting apples. During the processing, sugar in the fruit is broken down by bacteria and yeast into alcohol and then into vinegar. White vinegar is an appropriate substitute.
The inclusion of dried apricots adds texture, color and nutrients to the dish. In addition, a serving of apricots provides a rich source of vitamin C and beta-carotene.
Aromatic thyme is used in the recipe as well, offering hints of mint and lemon.
It is cultivated in southern Europe and is frequently featured in French cuisine. Sautéed with shallots, as it is here, the herb’s warm flavor is apparent in every bite.
Lastly, garnishing the chicken with toasted almonds adds a pleasant crunch and provides added nutritional benefits. Almonds supply heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and, although calorie-dense, can – and should – be enjoyed in moderation.
Apricot Almond Chicken - Makes 4 servings.
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup all-fruit apricot jam
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
4 (4 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 Tbsp. sliced almonds
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup boiling water
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
Combine vinegar and jam in a small pot over medium to low heat. Cook, stirring often, until the jam is dissolved, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in salt and pepper. Let cool slightly and reserve ½ cup of sauce. Place chicken and remainder of sauce in a large re-sealable plastic bag. Seal and shake gently to coat. Place in refrigerator and let marinate for 1 to 2 hours.
In a small dry skillet, over medium heat, toast almonds until lightly browned, approximately 5 minutes. Remove from heat immediately and set aside.
Place dried apricots in 1 cup of very hot water for 2 minutes. Remove and set aside. Chop finely when cool.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium to high heat. Add shallots and thyme and cook, stirring often, until shallots soften, about 1 minute. Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade. Add the chicken to the pan and cook until it starts to brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Add the reserved apricot sauce and softened chopped apricots. Stir to fully coat chicken. Reduce heat, cover and cook until chicken is cooked through, approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with almonds and serve immediately.
Per serving: 370 calories, 7 g total fat (1g saturated fat), 52 g carbohydrate, 29 g protein, 3 g dietary fiber, 390 mg sodium.
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