Monday, December 8, 2008

Cranberry Chicken Bake

I love making this dish in the fall and winter, because that's the only time of the year when fresh cranberries are available. When I go to the store, I always buy a couple of extra bags and freeze them, so I can make this chicken dish about 6 months out of the year before I run out.

My kids love this chicken because the cranberries and ketchup make the sauce sweet and tangy; you'd think it might come out too strong, but it's a perfect compliment to the chicken. You could substitute boneless pork chops, pork tenderloin, or even a whole boneless pork loin roast, and serve the sauce on the side. It's really 2 different recipes thrown together; I hope you like it :-)

Cranberry Chicken Bake

5-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, or thighs, or a combination
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 tablepoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
2/3 cup canned whole berry cranberry sauce
1 cup fresh/frozen cranberries

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. When the pan is ready, add the chicken, and brown on both sides for about 5 minutes.

We're not going to cook these all the way through. I seared the thighs for a few extra minutes because they were bone-in, and I wanted to be sure they would be done at the same time as the breasts (these will finish up in the oven with the sauce).

Remove the chicken to a lightly greased 9x13 pan, and set aside.
For the sauce, heat the butter in the same pan over medium heat. Add the onion and rosemary, season with a little salt and pepper, and saute for 6-8 minutes, or until the onion is tender.

Pour in the chicken broth, and scrap up an browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Then add the ketchup, brown sugar, orange peel, cranberry sauce, and whole cranberries.
Just a side note here: if you need to know how to grate orange peel, it's very easy. Use a microplane grater to grate off just the orange colored zest from the rind. Don't take off any of the white pith, it is bitter, and will not taste good in the sauce. If you don't have a microplane grater, drop a hit to the hubby, it makes a great stocking stuffer :-).

Oh, I also used homemade cranberry sauce which I was fortunate to obtain when I saw my in-laws over Thanksgiving. They know I like to use it for this recipe...but canned sauce works just fine...I've used that too. But I had to show you the homemade's divine.

Back to the sauce...bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, and let it go for about 4-6 minutes, until it has thickened, and the cranberries start to pop open. Season with a little more salt and pepper if you'd like.

Remove the pan from the heat, and pour the sauce over the chicken. Isn't it pretty?

Bake at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until the chicken juices run clear when pierced with a knife.

I served some simple sauteed zucchini and boxed mac and cheese on the side. Yes, even I used the boxed mac and cheese. Joshua had been begging for it for a few days, and I couldn't take it any more. What's a momma to do? The kids are not crazy for zucchini, except Rebecca, so they had carrot sticks.

This is sure to please everyone in your family! God bless your table tonight!

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