Monday, October 7, 2013

A Little Seasonal Stuff

What is it with the weather this year?  We had a normal, hot July.  Then August came and the temperatures dropped. August felt like October.  Now September and October feel like August.

I'm not complaining too much.  I'm a summer girl.  To me fall is beautiful for only a short period of time.  The leaves turn, it's pretty for 3-4 weeks maximum.  Then it all falls off, everything dies, the weather gets cold, the days grow dark, and we just sit around waiting for winter so we can just get it over with.  No thank you! 

Summer weather is kind of inconvenient this time of year though.  I usually start putting away all of my beloved shorts, sandals, and sundresses by now.  What's even worse is that all of the pools and beaches are closed, so what's the point of warm weather?  Swimming is the biggest joy of summer after all.  I need friends who live close by who keep their pools open until Columbus Day or else I need to find a nearby lake or beach where you can sneak in a swim even when there aren't any lifeguards.

No matter what the weather, this time of year always brings forth the fall recipes.  That is the other aspect of this season I hate.  I can't stand the proliferation of squash.  Whether it's savory dishes with butternut squash (or whatever the trendy gourd du jour is) or sweet dishes with pumpkin (or sweet dishes with other squash and savory dishes with "pumpkin" - which usually isn't really pumpkin), this time of year makes me want to just bury my head in the sand and stay away from all food media until Christmas. 

There is one saving grace among the fall foods.  I do love pears and plums and apples.  You can always pile on the apple recipes.  Give me apple pie and apple tart and apple cake.  Put all kinds of apple sauces on my savory foods.   Here's a way to know how good a dish can be.  An apple tastes good as is.  You bite into a tasty crisp apple, and if you like apples, you will be happy.  Who opens a can of pumpkin (which isn't actually pumpkin) and thinks, "Yummy this stuff looks delicious"? As for real, fresh pumpkins, they're even worse.  I remember in the days when I carved jack-o-lanterns how nauseated I felt by the barftastic pumpkin smell as I gutted and carved them.  I sure didn't want to eat that!  You have to put a lot of stuff into a pumpkin to make it palatable.  Well, if you add lots of cream, butter, sugar, and cinnamon to anything, it's kind of likely to be palatable.

Yes, I know I do way too much anti-pumpkin ranting this time of year.  I know my War on Pumpkin is a lost cause, but I still seem to want to keep fighting the good fight.

So let's get back to fall-themed apple dishes.  This time of year dishes tend to get a bit heavier, a bit richer.   My recipe for this post is no exception, although I suppose it's not as rich and heavy as it could be.  My clothes are getting awfully big on me these days and while I don't know how I am going to afford shopping for new stuff, I kind of prefer having them too loose than too tight.  This dish uses skinless chicken and just a little touch of cream.  A year ago I might have made it with whole chicken pieces, bacon, and twice as much cream.  (I admit I almost decided to use bacon in this anyway.)  It also contains mushrooms, which are earthy and make me think of foraging in autumnal forests.  I don't use whole apples, but I do use one of my favorite fall derivatives - cider.  I tried to keep the flavors simple, but also wanted this to be somewhat unique.  I hope I succeeded.

Chicken in Cider Mushroom Sauce

  • 2 Tbl olive oil
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or pounded boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper for sprinkling
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup good apple cider
  • 10 oz. sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh sage
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper on both sides.  Heat olive oil in a large pan.  Brown the chicken breasts well on each side.  Remove from pan and keep warm.

Add onions to the pan.  Cook until soft and starting to take on some color.  Add mushrooms and cook until they are soft and releasing their liquid.  Add the cider to the pan, scraping up the browned bits at the bottom.  Bring to a boil and boil for two minutes.  Add the sage and reduce to a simmer. Return the chicken to the pan.  Cook until chicken is cooked through, about 15-20 minutes depending on the thickeness of your meat.

Remove chicken from the pan.  Boil the sauce another minute.  Return to a simmer and stir in the cream.  Serve the sauce over the chicken.

1 comment:

Sue said...

Pretty picture! Yummy recipe!

I may not agree with your anti-pumpkin propaganda, but I'm with you about apples. If you don't have the New James Beard Cookbook (you know, from DECADES ago), tell me and I'll send you the BEST EVER apple recipe. It's an apple cake, which, I don't know why, but it's the most delicious coffee-cake-type-of-moist-cake recipe in the world.