On The Menu Next Week: Pump Up The Jam Chicken with Apricot Sauce over Pea Almond Couscous April 10, 2017
It’s finally spring, which means peas are back in season, which means there’s a whole lot of delicious happiness to go around. Our chefs agree, which is why they snuck them into next week’s apricot chicken. Hear what chef Nate has to say about these irresistible green gems and select the recipe off next week’s menu.
Can you describe the process of developing the recipe? What was your inspiration?
Chef Nate: This recipe is a twist on North African flavors and ingredients. Apricot, lemon, peas, and almond all get tossed into couscous and topped with apricot-glazed chicken thighs. The brightness of the lemon and parsley cuts through the richness of the chicken and apricot for a lovely balance of savory, sweet, and sour.
Let’s talk peas! Why did you decide to incorporate them into this recipe?
Chef Nate: Peas are almost synonymous with springtime. They’re fresh and sweet, with just a hint of green vegetable flavor. When combined with couscous, peas add a textural component as well as little bursts of liquid in the grain, which can sometimes be dry.
When most people think about dinner, they don’t typically think fruit. However, in this recipe, we see that dried apricots and apricot jam play a role in the sauce. What are the benefits of these two ingredients — specifically when it comes to sauces?
Chef Nate: Dried fruit is popular in a lot of cuisines. Before the advent of sugar, fruits and honey were the only sources of sweetness in cooking. Dried apricot gets combined with apricot jam to reinforce the flavor and provide extra sweetness to a grain that can sometimes be slightly bitter. Jams are great for sauces because they melt easily and turn into sticky glazes with little manipulation.
What do you like about cooking with chicken thighs? Do you have any tips for getting the best sear?
Chef Nate: Chicken thighs have a deeper flavor than breast. The dark meat has a better balance of muscle, fat, and connective tissue that prevents the meat from drying out (it’s also much harder to overcook a chicken thigh than a breast). For the best sear, get your pan very hot, make sure the meat is dry, and let it cook without disturbing it.
Besides the fact that peas are in season (and cooking seasonally makes us oh-so-happy), why should customers be excited about this recipe?
Chef Nate: Chicken thighs are delicious! People should embrace this flavorful cut of meat. It takes well to virtually every cooking method and is sure to become a household favorite.
What are the nutritional benefits of this recipe?
Rebecca, RD: I am a huge fan of almonds and love the added crunch they give this dish. Nutritionally, they are an excellent plant-based source of protein and fats. Additionally, almonds are chock-full of the fiber we need to keep our digestion healthy.
Sarah, RD: I love cooking with chicken thighs! But to keep the flavor without compromising health, you have to trim them. Grab your scissors or a knife and cut away all that extra, unnecessary fat (seriously, we keep a pair of scissors in our knife block just for chicken, but you can use your normal pair and give them a good scrub after using). You’ll have a delicious source of protein without added calories and saturated fat.
Kick off spring in your kitchen by selecting this meal off next week’s menu.
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