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Apple makes a fun savory accompaniment to chicken, pork and more

This recipe pairs peak seasonal apples with crispy chicken thighs.

Last week, I wrote about how the pears I buy often take too long to ripen, so I bake them instead of eating them fresh. It’s a way to make lackluster fruit seem luxurious.

This week, I have sort of the opposite problem with another fall fruit: apples. I love apples, buy them weekly and enjoy them so much in their fresh state that I can’t ever bring myself to cook them.

But after seeing one too many recipes on the internet for savory apple dishes, I buckled down and ordered an extra handful.

We know they work beautifully in desserts, or even simply baked with spices like those pears. But they also have a place in your dinnertime recipes.

Apples go really well with chicken, specifically fatty chicken that has a chance to release some of its schmaltz when cooked. Pork is another ideal apple pairing, and even red meat like a nice steak can benefit from a crunchy apple slaw.

But I had a hankering for apples and chicken, and worked the crisp fruit into one of my go-to meals: crispy skillet chicken thighs.

It’s a simple recipe, but the flavors you’ll get from the specific combination of ingredients are anything but basic. Sliced apples get cooked in chicken fat, along with shallots and jalapeno, which contrast the sweetness of the fruit. If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, you can use regular distilled vinegar or white wine vinegar — even fresh lemon juice. The acidity is what’s important here, because it cuts through the chicken fat and brightens up the whole dish.

If you really wanted to amp things up, you could create a topping made from the same three ingredients you cook down with the chicken, but leave them raw: very thinly sliced apples, minced shallots and minced jalapeno. Toss with some apple cider vinegar and olive oil and place it atop your flavorful chicken-apple medley.

Chicken Thighs With Apple and Shallot

4 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs

Salt

Black pepper

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 apple, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices

2 shallots, chopped

1 jalapeno, cut into thin strips

½ cup chicken broth (you could also use water)

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

Pat chicken dry and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then place chicken in skin-side down. Cook until skin is thoroughly browned and crispy, then flip and cook on other side until cooked through. This usually takes about 12 to 15 minutes. A thermometer inserted into the center of the thigh should read at least 165 degrees.

Transfer chicken to a plate but leave the fat in the skillet.

Add apples, shallots and jalapeno to fat in skillet. Season with salt and pepper. If skillet is dry, you can add some more olive oil. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until apples are browned, about 5 minutes.

When mixture has got some nice color on it, add broth or water and bring to a low boil. Cook until apples are nice and soft and broth has mostly evaporated. Turn off heat but leave skillet over burner, then add vinegar and honey and stir well to combine. Nestle chicken back in the skillet on top of the mixture just to let it warm up a bit, then serve.

Serves 2.

Source: Michelle Stark, Tampa Bay Times

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