Yeah. It wasn’t pretty. But when we got married, I was excited to wife-it-up and learn to cook. As we talked about who we wanted to be, we determined that we did not want to be people who cooked and ate the same 5 meals all the time. So, we instituted “Try it Tuesdays.”
Each Tuesday, we would attempt to cook something we never had before…it could be something familiar, like lasagna, or something crazy like beef bourguignon, just as long as we’d never made it before.
Come Tuesday, I would comb through my giant wedding-gift cookbooks (Taste of Home and Better Homes & Gardens) in search of our Try-it meal. And then I would generally call my mother approximately 7-10 times throughout the process to ask admittedly ridiculous questions out of my vast culinary uncertainty.
In fact, I recently asked my admirably patient mother, “What was the dumbest cooking questions I ever asked you? ” Immediately, she regaled me with the “Tale of the Elusive Roasted Rosemary Chicken,” a recipe I’d attempted on a particularly ambitious Tuesday. Thus went her story:
A newly married Liz called from the grocery store produce section, “What are red potatoes exactly?” And then again 3 minutes later from the meat section, “What is a roasting chicken?” And then again from the dairy aisle, “What’s the difference between heavy whipping cream and half & half?” And then at home, “Can I use dried parsley instead of fresh?” And then the kicker, “Do I put the chicken in sitting upright or laying down in the V-shaped roasting pan?” She laughed so hard she cried. And then, gasping for breath, answered me, out of her infinite stock of mom knowledge…or momledge?
Most of the time, with ample help from my mother, these meals turned out well – except for one incident with overly-buttery chicken in which we ended up eating graham crackers for dinner – and I learned to really love cooking, as well as to understand some super-nerdy foodie terms like slice on a bias and cornstarch slurry.
Somewhere in that first year of Try it Tuesdays, we tried chicken with apple cream sauce and LOVED it. It started us on a quest to pair meat with fruit as often as possible (a quest you should definitely join us on). And we’ve made it over and over…making changes to it here and there…and even making it for my uber-picky dad once, who not only ate it all, but complimented it too.
Here’s the rundown on what we affectionately call “apple chicken”: it’s amazing. You should make it. Tonight. You’ve got really moist chicken paired with a richly thick apple cream sauce, with happy little bites of soft apples and leeks that first fell in love in a bath of butter. The kick of rosemary at the end balances all that richness out nicely. We love to make this with broccoli (the best vegetable around at soaking up sauce) and then heap everything over some buttery mashed potatoes. I’ll level with you: don’t make this if you’re trying to lose weight, but please make this if you want to dine in appley, creamy bliss.
(recipe adapted from The Taste of Home Cookbook) (yields 4 servings)
Here's how I adapt this recipe. I double the sauce. I know, naughty right? But it's a really sad thing when the sauce is scant. Doubling it makes far too much, but we eat it over rice and potatoes for the rest of the week. Or, if you're better at math, you could 1 1/2 the recipe. Other than that, I also add 2 apples and 1 big leek, sauteed in a tablespoon of butter before being added to the sauce.
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium sized apples (any firm apple will do; I used Haralsons); cut into thin slices
1 big leek (or 2 smaller ones), thinly sliced
1 tbsp. butter
(doubled sauce ingredients)
2 c. apple juice
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 to 1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 c. heavy whipping cream
In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and brown chicken halves for about 4 minutes per side or evenly browned.
Meanwhile, combine apple juice, lemon juice, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a bowl. You also want to make sure your leeks and apples are sliced at this point.
Once chicken is browned, pour in the apple juice mixture, cover the pan, and simmer for about 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken from pan and keep warm.
While chicken is simmering, melt 1 tbsp. butter in a smaller pan, and saute apples and leeks in butter until softened. Turn off heat.
When chicken is removed, add apples and leeks to apple juice mixture and simmer for 3 more minutes. Mix your cornstarch and cream in a small bowl until cornstarch is dissolved. Add cornstarch mixture to pan with apple juice mixture, apples, and leeks. Bring to a boil; boil and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
Add chicken pieces back into pan and heat through - about 1 more minutes.
We love to eat this over mashed potatoes and broccoli, with a generous helping of the sauce. Nom! You know you want it.
(P.S. Just so you're not confused, because 5-years-ago me would have been... In the pictures, I did not use rosemary but some fresh sage I had around. But I like the dried rosemary better.)