Monday, March 9, 2009

Cranberry Chicken Bake

Cranberry chicken is a very simplistic recipe - just a simple combination of cranberry sauce turned into a barbecue sauce and baked with a lightly seared chicken. It's a super simple dish, but the combination of the tart cranberry, with the sweetness of the brown sugar, and just a tiny bit of a kick from some Cajun seasoning, produces a super tasty sauce. Be sure to serve some of that on the side. This is really a very versatile recipe, so once you get the sauce whisked, give it a taste and adjust the seasonings to your own palate.

You really do need a heavy bottomed stainless skillet instead of a non-stick skillet to get a good sear on the chicken. You just can't achieve that, at least not safely, in a non-stick skillet because high heat will break down the non-stick surface. I know you're thinking, "but the chicken will stick," and to a degree, well, that is true. At least at first. It will seem that it is sticking, but when the chicken is ready, I promise, so long as your heat isn't too high to burn it, it will release.

Just place the chicken in the hot oil and scoot it around the pan right away, so that it is well coated. Then, leave it be, let it cook and don't touch it. You can kind of swirl the pan a bit every once in awhile to keep the oil moving, but when the chicken has a good sear on it, it will release from the pan. Problem is, that we all generally freak out before that because it appears to be sticking, and we're afraid it will burn and so we start pulling at the chicken and we tear it, totally defeating the purpose of the sear. If your heat isn't too high, trust me on this one, the chicken will let you know when it is time to turn it!



Cranberry Chicken Bake
From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon of canola oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 can of cranberry sauce
1/2 teaspoon of Slap Ya Mama, or your favorite
   Cajun/Creole seasoning, or to taste
1/4 cup of ketchup
Juice of 1 fresh lemon
3 heaping tablespoons of light brown sugar
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
Couple splashes of apple cider vinegar
Small palmful of dried parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat; reduce heat to medium and sear the chicken breasts just until light brown. Before removing from skillet, season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking pan with the seasoned side down and season the other side. Set aside.

To that same skillet, add the cranberry sauce, Cajun seasoning, ketchup, lemon juice, brown sugar, mustard, vinegar and parsley. Turn heat up to medium high and whisk all of the ingredients together until it begins to boil.

Pour the sauce over the chicken and bake at 350 degrees, uncovered, basting occasionally, for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer reads at 160-165 degrees and juices run clear.


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