Apple Butter Chicken (Guest Post by Ingri Hartwig)

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Hi everyone, I’m Gretchen’s sister, Ingri, and today I am lucky enough to have been asked to guest blog.  Now originally, I was asked to blog about these:

As you can imagine, I was not too excited to have my blog debut marred by the rather unsightly presentation of my caramel apples, so I decided to make Apple Butter Chicken instead.  For the record, however, I would like to note two things: 1) Caramel apples are REALLY hard to make beautifully 2) They may look horrendous, but they were delicious.

So, now on to my real recipe.  I am not the kitchen connoisseur that Gretchen is, but I do truly love this recipe.  Not only is it easy to make, but it is healthy and very tasty.  Your main ingredients will consist of skinless chicken breasts; bread crumbs; almonds; aged white or orange cheddar cheese; and apple butter.   This time I got my apple butter at my local grocery store, but I can tell you that the best brand I have found is at Trader Joe’s.

First, what you want to do is pat dry your chicken breasts and lay them with the fattier side down on a cutting board.  You can take the time to flatten them out if you wish, but I find that I like them a little plump when they go into the oven.  Once you have them dry, put your choice of seasoning on the chicken-I use S&P (I learned that abbreviation from Gretchen) and a dash of Montreal Chicken spice for extra flavor.  Then use about 1 tbsp of your apple butter and smooth it over the chicken breasts, followed by thinly sliced pieces of aged cheddar cheese.

Once you have sufficiently ‘cheesed’ your chicken, fold the pieces onto each other and secure with toothpicks, like so:

Aren’t those the cutest little things you’ve ever seen?!  Next, put 1 tablespoon of olive oil, S&P and a little Montreal Chicken spice into the bottom of your cookware, and place the chicken inside.  I have found that using something just big enough to fit how much chicken you make gives you the best results.  Once they are snuggly arranged inside, put a little extra apple butter and cheese on top of each piece.  Now comes the very exciting part! Not really, but when I made this up I sort of felt like a genius at this point. Lightly coat the top of the chicken with some olive oil, then sprinkle a little bit of bread crumbs, montreal chicken spice, and crushed almonds to complete the dish.  Here is a picture for those of you who are wondering what the big deal is.

Cover the chicken and cook at a temperature of 350 degrees, for 35-45 minutes, depending on the power of your oven.  The internal temperature of a properly cooked chicken is supposed to be 160 degrees, so you can use a meat thermometer to check on your dish or eyeball it, depending on your preference.  The key to good chicken is to not over-cook it!  While that is slowly baking you can make a very tasty side dish of sweet potato rice.  That sounds very intricate and enticing, but really it is just sweet potato mixed in with rice.  I always like to make a rice with this chicken, because it compliments the lightness of the meal, but since I was going to be famous I thought I should step it up a bit.  While trying to decide how to really wow all of you I found a half-used sweet potato in my refrigerator and I thought, why not?  I diced up that last half of a sweet potato and sauteed it in a little olive oil on low temperature-doesn’t this look great?!

As that was simmering I made some brown rice and added it to the sweet potato.
Some of you may be saying, “Wow, that is a lot of rice.” Well, you are right, it was.  The key to this side dish is S&P and butter-big surprise.  Add the S&P to taste, but I will tell you that I went outside of my salt comfort zone on this one, and I didn’t regret it.  Let the rice simmer with the sweet potato for another 5 – 7 minutes or so, adding a little water if you need to, until you feel that it is to your liking.  Once you are done, pile it on a plate (being careful to arrange it aesthetically, of course), and then place your chicken on top.

I always add a vegetable, but on this occasion we went with a light salad, and I didn’t feel it was worthy of a picture (there is a lot of pressure with this blog business). You now have a perfectly balanced meal, enjoy!! PS-remember to take out the toothpicks!

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