September 30th, 2014

Beer-Braised Chicken with apples and pears

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Even though the days have been heating up, nights have ushered in a welcome cool here in Nashville. Not quite sweater or jacket weather—but soon. Autumn officially began last week, and you can sense the shift. Clear dry air, different quality of light, and just yesterday I noticed the tinge of orange and yellow on the maple trees. I’m ready.

With the onset of fall, I’ve been prompted to clean and declutter. Part of my “As above, So below” philosophy: straightening out a crammed closet, getting rid of unused stuff, doing that “deep cleaning” and organizing. When I bring order externally, it brings order within. It also sheds what I call “psychic dead weight.” Those two bundles of clothes I took to Goodwill? Ah, already I feel lighter.

You gotta keep the path clear for creativity’s flow!

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And in the kitchen, I’ve been embracing the braise. Beef brisket for potluck. Cider pork shoulder for a cooking class. And today, chicken breasts in beer with apples, pears, and shallots.

The style of cooking suits not only the season, but also my temperament these busy workdays. Take a meat and brown it, building a foundation of flavor in a heavy duty Dutch oven. Cover it, and let it simmer, undisturbed, into succulence, while you go about the affairs of the day.

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The beauty of this chicken dish is that, unlike big roasts, it doesn’t take hours to braise. Less than one hour, really. Inspired by a recipe on Cooking Light, I used beer as the braising liquid. I don’t drink beer, but I always seem to have a random bottle or two in my fridge, leftover from one of our potluck gatherings.

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Add in shallots, coarse grain Dijon mustard, sliced apples and pears, and you have a luscious dish that makes me think of Belgian farmhouse cooking. As the beer simmers and reduces, it tenderizes the chicken. It melds with the fruit and mustard, transforming into a sauce imbued with the ale’s malt and hops.

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There are a number of sides that would be excellent with this. Roasted root vegetables. Creamy polenta. Wild rice. You want an accompaniment that will capture all the savory juices.

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I chose to make pearl couscous folded with chopped arugula. It is fast and easy—ten minutes of cooking—something you can throw together right before dinner. I relish the bitter edge imparted by the arugula. Use any type of green that you happen to enjoy, or have on hand.

Here’s to a new season of cooking, eating and sharing.

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BEER BRAISED CHICKEN WITH APPLES AND PEARS adapted from Cooking Light
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 Chicken Breasts
Salt
Black Pepper
3 tablespoons Coarse Grain Dijon Mustard, divided
1/2 cup sliced shallots
1 Gala apple, sliced
1 Red pear, sliced
6 ounces beer
1 tablespoon honey

Place a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add olive oil. Liberally coat the chicken breasts with coarse grain mustard, then sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Place into the Dutch oven, skin side down first, and allow the chicken to brown on one side–about 5 minutes.

Flip the chicken. Add the shallots and cook for 1 minute. Add the apples and pears. Stir.
Mix the honey into the beer and pour over the chicken.

Cover and braise for 15-20 minutes. Check for doneness. Stir and scrape up any browned bits.
Place chicken on bed of couscous. Spoon over apples and pears and drench the chicken in the savory juices.

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TRI-COLOR PEARL COUSCOUS with BITTER GREENS

1 cup tri-color pearl (Israeli) couscous
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped arugula, or kale, or mustards
1 tablespoon olive oil

Fill a saucepan with 1 quart water. Season with salt. Bring to a boil over high heat.
Pour in couscous and cook according to package directions–about 10 minutes.
Drain and set aside.
Put chopped greens into the saucepan. Pour cooked couscous over the greens.
Add olive oil and stir over very low heat, stirring until the green collapse and wilt in the couscous.

Divide between 2 bowls. Top with chicken, fruits, and braising juices.
Serves 2

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Posted in Gluten Free, Meats/Poultry, Pastas, Recipes, Soups/Stews

15 Responses to “Beer-Braised Chicken with apples and pears”
  1. Kitchen Belleicious Says:

    i love braising chicken. It brings out the best flavor and I can only imagine how flavorful this dish is with those apples and pears alongside the chicken. It is comfort food at its best and could easily replace our classic roast on holidays!

  2. Denise Says:

    This looks delicious, Nancy. Can I replace beer with water or stock?

  3. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Denise–I would make it with a combination of stock and apple or pear cider

  4. Denise Says:

    Yes. Great idea. Thanks!

  5. fluffy Says:

    looks like an amazing way to prepare chicken. perfect for fall

  6. Melissa D. Corbin Says:

    Delicious Nancy! I recommend drinking the beer AND braising with beer all at the same time. It’s part of the ZEN…ya know?

  7. Barbara Says:

    I’d give a lot for a little cool, Nancy. It was in the 90’s here today.
    This is a super combo of flavors in your dish. Mustard, Apple, pear and beer? Yum. I’d love this over some wild rice!

  8. Michele | Cooking At Home Says:

    I couldn’t agree more that uncluttering the exterior helps with uncluttering the interior. Braises are a favorite of mine for fall and winter, and I can’t wait to try this one. Happy Fall!

  9. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Happy Fall to you, too Michele. It feels sooooo much better getting rid of stuff, doesn’t it?

    I hear ya, Melissa.

    Barbara–hope the cool comes your way soon. This weekend it is supposed to dip into the upper 40’s!

  10. mark Says:

    Perfect for this time of year. And it would go great with Alsacean Riesling. Hum Hum eat them up.

  11. Teresa, foodonfifth Says:

    Nance this looks so yummy. Perfect for fall in all it’s crispiness. We were definitely on the same chicken path this past week. It just seems like the time has come for cozy meals doesn’t it?
    I am looking forward to this cooler weather and the foods that go along with it. Let’s see if we are channeling the same foods next time? All I am saying is that it is apple time in the South!
    Wonderful post as always.

  12. Gerlinde Says:

    I love braising chicken and meat. It is such a great way to welcome the cooler weather. This weekend the temperatures here in Santa Cruz got up into the high nineties so I have to wait until it cools down.

  13. Juliana Says:

    This braised chicken with beer and yes, apple and pear just look and sound delicious…I love the idea of the fruits in it…I like the idea of cooking slowly…
    Thanks for the recipe Nancy…enjoy your week :D

  14. Adri Says:

    Featuring a dish like this means fall has arrived. This sounds delicious – just the kind of thing that would send my husband into rapturous delight. I’ve got to try this one. Thanks!

  15. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Mark–a riesling–sure, but I’d keep beer with beer.

    Teresa–apple tart with apple caramel is on the horizon!

    Gerlinde–best to wait for cooler temperatures.

    Juliana–thank you! the fruits do work well in this dish.

    Adri-hope he’ll enjoy it!



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