Poultry

Maple Mustard Chicken

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Maple Mustard Chicken

Can you believe that we are nearing the one year anniversary mark for my blog? Yeah, me neither. I kicked it off with a post about a Waterloo regional specialty, Egg Cheese, which is nearly always eaten with maple syrup, and boy, oh boy, did that stir up the yeas and the nays! I got a 2 litre carton of buttermilk last week in preparation for making it again soon. Our grocery store had the big jugs on sale last week. It’s like they know that it’s Egg Cheese season!

There is no denying that March is the Month of Maple in Ontario. Everywhere you look, there is maple this and maple that. I happen to like maple syrup too and we are rather closely connected to a certain young maple syrup producer, so in the interest of self-preservation and for the good of mankind, I decided to jump on the bandwagon and contribute my two cents.

I have fond memories of traipsing through our bush behind our place, collecting sap after school. At least they’re fond memories now. We didn’t have a farm, but we did live in the country and Mom and Dad wanted us to know where our food came from. Dad built a cute little sugar shanty at the back of our lawn, and many were the evenings we would spend out there in that warm steamy darkness, the kerosene lamp softly hissing above us. Drinking freshly gathered sap, watching it boil and skimming off the foam, opening the furnace door to add more logs to the fire, listening to Dad telling stories about his childhood: what a sticky feast for the senses. And sometimes… oh bliss, oh joy… sometimes, we took a jar of it in to Mom and she would pour it into a kettle on the stove and carefully boil it down further to the taffy stage. When it was done, she poured it into well-buttered enamel pie plates and let it cool. We waited impatiently until it had hardened enough that we could swirl it on our forks like sticky spaghetti and take that first marvelous bite. We would pop popcorn and wash apples to eat with it, because the best snack combination ever is popcorn, taffy, and apples!

I thought it was time to feature a meat entree again, so I cobbled together a simple, yet highly flavoured glaze for chicken. It would be delicious on pork chops as well, or perhaps on your Easter ham. I used bone-in chicken breasts that I had in my freezer, so they took a little longer to bake than boneless ones would have, but wow, were they tender! I served them with mashed potatoes, brown butter rutabaga, and a simple salad on my nice plates because I was going to be taking a picture of them. And we saw and tasted that it was good.

Maple Mustard Chicken (2)

Treat your special someone to a delectable dinner of Maple Mustard Chicken, mashed potatoes, rutabaga with brown butter, and a salad.

This post is sponsored by Martin’s Family Fruit Farm. The recipes, views, and stories are my own.
Depending on the amount of natural sugar in the sap, it takes from thirty-eight to forty gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup. It is boiled in evaporator pans until it condenses and becomes thick and golden. There are four grades of syrup in Ontario: Golden, Amber, Dark and Very Dark, which is mostly sold directly to bakeries. We sell the first three grades at Martin’s. It has been interesting to watch the transition from the earlier desired grade being a lighter syrup to now, where most people desire the Amber, or even the Dark. I guess people enjoy more robust foods than they used to!
I used a shallot in this recipe. Shallots look like mini oval red onions, and the taste is somewhere between a onion and a garlic. It is adds wonderful depth of flavour to roast beef and other meat dishes, as well as to roasted vegetables.

Maple Mustard Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup butterMaple Mustard Chicken
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (I like Amber for cooking)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons desired mustard (I used grainy)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots or onions
  • 4 large or 6 medium boneless chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F. Boil together the first six ingredients until it starts to thicken slightly; about 5 minutes. Lay the chicken in a single layer in a shallow baking dish. Season with salt and pepper. Brush half of the sauce over the chicken. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and baste chicken with juices from the pan. Coat chicken with remaining sauce and bake uncovered for an additional 15 minutes, or until the juices run clear when pierced with a sharp knife, and the glaze is getting all carmelly and golden. Serve and savour every bite.

Note: Ovens vary greatly, so if it doesn’t seem to be browning nicely for you, turn the broiler on for a wee bit, but watch it carefully! I used my convection setting, and I think the fan carmelizes better than a conventional oven does.

Parsley Lime Chicken in Cream

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One of my favourite things to plant in the spring is my herb pot. In my opinion, herbs add life to any blah, drooping, weary dish. This summer has been especially friendly to my pot, and, I might add, to me, with regular rains to keep it looking lush. I can shear off a big bunch of them one day, and voila! By the next week there’s another armful of them waiting

I love pretty much any herb, with the exception of cilantro. Cilantro and I have agreed to co-exist, if not warmly, at least peacefully. Parsley is an old friend that goes way back and is useful in many ways. Curly parsley is the prettiest; flat-leaf Italian parsley delivers more punch. One of my favourite ways to consume parsley is in melted butter over new potatoes.

I was planning to grill chicken breasts and sweet corn one night, but it rained, so my plans changed. I browsed recipes and came across one that looked promising, except…cilantro. Parsley, especially flat-leaf parsley, is an agreeable substitute, though, so without much pause, I continued on. It was a success, unlike the rum/vanilla substitution in my Rhubarb Pancakes. So you see, sometimes it does work! Thyme also works well with chicken, but if you insist on using cilantro, go ahead.

I have gotten into the whole liquid-reduction thing in sauces like this; it eliminates the need for thickeners like flour, which is a good thing if you’re cooking gluten-free. You simply add broth, wine and/or cream to the skillet and cook it down until it’s the thickness you want, usually about a third or half. I browned the chicken, made the sauce, then baked the chicken in the sauce for 40 minutes.

I still served it with sweet corn, and spooned some of the sauce over fresh broccoli. We have beautiful herbs, corn, broccoli and cauliflower at Martin’s Family Fruit Farm right now. And so much other good stuff, I can hardly cook it fast enough, let alone blog about it all.

Herbs are a key to adding culinary bling (eye appeal) to your food, as well as flavour. Check how much they spread before planting them. Some of them, such as parsley, basil, and mint, will happily take over the whole pot or bed! 

They can be dried or frozen to use in the winter. I have frozen stems of herbs and chopped off pieces to use in soups, etc.

 

Parsley Lime Chicken in Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon fresh lime juice (about half a Persian lime)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 – 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
  • Chopped parsley, thyme (optional), lime wedges for garnish
  • Seasonal side vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, corn, beans, asparagus, carrots; you name it!

Directions

Turn oven on to 375° F. Heat olive oil on medium-high in a large skillet. Place chicken breasts in hot oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Quickly brown them on each side until they are a deep gold colour. They don’t have to be done; browning adds ever so much more flavour. Transfer them to a 7″ x 11″ baking dish. Squeeze the lime (or drizzle juice) over the chicken. In the same pan, sauté the onion and garlic until fragrant and soft, then add the whipping cream and red pepper flakes. Cook until the liquid is reduced by about a third. Pour over the chicken in the pan. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes. Meanwhile, you can be steaming the broccoli and boiling or roasting the corn, or prepping your salad.

Spoon some of the liquid over the broccoli and sprinkle everything with chopped parsley to serve. Garnish with a lime wedge.