T’is the season for pumpkin-everything and you know how much I love pumpkin. Let’s make some Apple Cherry Chicken with my mom’s potato-bottomed rice, for a refreshing change that still echoes the season. Hopefully by now, you’ve tasted maple pumpkin pie or painted a batch of sparkly ones to decorate your holiday table.
The Secret of Saffron
When I was pregnant with Daisy and we were deciding on a name for her, I secretly wanted to call her Saffron. Reputed to be the most expensive spice in the world, its sweet, distinct flavour is the signature of many Eastern dishes, both savoury and sweet.Lucky for us, good quality saffron is widely available. Check your local Trader Joe’s for the little glass vial of the Spanish variety.
The secret to unlocking the delicious flavour packed in those delicate crimson threads is a simple technique courtesy of Mom. Grind the threads with a bit of sugar, then steep them in a bit of hot water as you do tea. This infuses both the taste and colour of the fragrant oils into the dish.
Cooking on a weeknight can be stressful. If you’re like me, you want your family to enjoy something nutritious, but getting ready in time for dinner can be a challenge. Don’t panic if you’re short on time.
This Apple Cherry Chicken comes together in about 20 minutes, because while the chicken in cooking, you’re making the rice. Then while the rice is cooking, you’re finishing off the stew.
Get the stew done the night before and all you have to do is make the rice, heat up the stew and serve. It freezes nicely, too. This saucy li’l number is just what you need to feed the troops presto-pronto!
Mom’s Potato-Bottomed Rice
Apple Cherry Chicken with Potato-Bottomed Rice
Notes: Cooking the rice is probably the most time-consuming step here. Using a frying pan instead of a deep pot gets the rice ready quickly and makes room for more potatoes, which really are the best part. With a few changes, this one is a snap to make Paleo.
2 cloves garlic
3 Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 cinnamon stick or 1 Tb ground cinnamon
1 Tb pomegranate molasses
1 tsp brown sugar
1 Tb tomato paste
1 cup hot water
2 tsp dried Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes (optional)
Put the kettle on and heat up some water.
Remove chicken and SAVE THE STOCK.
Cut meat into bite-sized chunks, set aside.
Rinse rice until water becomes clear. Removing the starch makes the rice more fluffy.
Add rice to pot of chicken stock and cover with lid.
Cook on gentle heat until all the stock has been absorbed, maybe 15 mins.
Meanwhile, use a mortar + pestle to grind a 1/2 teaspoon of saffron threads with a bit of sugar.
Then pour a couple of tablespoons of hot water. Allow the saffron to steep like tea for a few minutes.
Mince and add garlic.Keep an eye on the garlic as it can burn quickly.
Peel and chop apples, add to pan.
Add cherries and chicken.
Once the onions turn golden and fragrant, add turmeric, cinnamon,
pomegranate molasses, brown sugar, tomato paste and saffron.
Lower the heat, add a cup of hot water from the kettle. Mix gently, cover and simmer.
Peel and chop potatoes into bite-sized cubed.
Toss in olive oil, salt & pepper.
Drizzle a couple tablespoons of olive oil into a frying pan.
Arrange potato bits in a single layer.
If using bread for the bottom of the rice, put the pot lid over the pita and trace around it a knife.
Drizzle olive oil at the bottom of the pot and nestle pita into the pot.
Use a fork to gently fluff rice over the potatoes,
drop pats of butter over the top, cover with lid,
set on low heat and allow the rice to finish cooking, another 20 minutes.
Remove frying pan lid, place a large heatproof platter over the pan. VERY CAREFULLY, using oven mitts to protect your hands, flip the rice onto the platter.
In the interest of safety, this dangerous acrobatic step can be skipped altogether. There’s no shame in serving the rice right from the frying pan in a rustic fashion. Rustic translates to cozy. Who doesn’t like that?
Temperatures are dropping and the days are growing shorter. Leaves are changing color and floating gently to the ground. Dinner should be warm and comforting, something homey that reminds you of Mom’s cooking.
Shake things up with some fresh flavors with this Apple Cherry Chicken. A delightful Persian classic, it’s a quick healthy dish perfect for a Fall weeknight.
After a busy day at the office pestered by the sound of phones ringing nonstop, you deserve to
treat yourself to this delicious dish. That touch of saffron is sure to make you feel like royalty right at home.