Monday, December 22, 2008

Honey-Spiced Chicken with Carrots and Grapes

This week, it would be really easy for me to just drive through a fast food restaurant and pick up dinner for me and Joe. Between addressing and mailing Christmas cards, shopping for and wrapping gifts, and baking for the holiday, time that I can spend in the kitchen making dinner for us is limited. But I can only eat so many McChicken sandwiches, and last night I just really wanted something home-cooked.

A couple of weeks ago, I received my 2009 edition of Betty Crocker's Dinner Made Easy cookbook in the mail, and when I was leafing through it this recipe caught my eye. It just seemed so...strange, and I bookmarked it because I was curious how the flavors would work together. Carrots and grapes? Honey, balsamic vinegar and orange juice? And cinnamon? I was intrigued.

I put a lot of faith in Betty, though, especially since one of her previous cookbooks gave me this home run. And once again, she didn't disappoint me! This dish was absolutely delicious. The flavors all worked together so well. The grapes give the dish a subtle sweetness, and the carrots echo that sweetness in addition to adding a nice earthy flavor. Joe and I both really enjoyed this, and it came together very quickly. I served it with mashed potatoes for soaking up the (delicious) sauce.

The recipe below reflects the changes I made to the dish. The original recipe calls for the chicken to be poached in the sauce, but I much prefer chicken that's crispy on the outside, so I pan-fried it first.

Honey-Spiced Chicken with Carrots and Grapes
Source: Betty Crocker's Dinner Made Easy cookbook (2009 edition)

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, fat removed
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups carrots, thinly sliced
2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
1/3 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash nutmeg (original recipe calls for 1/4 teaspoon, but I'm not big on nutmeg so I went easy on it)

1. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. In a high-sided skillet over medium-high heat, cook chicken in olive oil until both sides are browned (the chicken doesn't have to be cooked all the way through). Remove chicken and set aside.

2. Add carrots to the same skillet and saute, stirring frequently, until carrots begin to soften slightly.

3. Meanwhile, combine orange juice, honey, vinegar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a separate bowl for sauce.

4. Return chicken to skillet. Add grapes and sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

5. Remove chicken from pan and let sauce cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Serve sauce over chicken.

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