Saturday, October 3, 2009

Chicken with Foraged Apples

I made another meal from the whole natural chicken which I purchased at Whole Foods the other day.

From a $3.50 bird, I've created stuffed chicken breast, and last night I made chicken quarters baked with foraged apples, leeks and cabbage (pic to left).

I still have one breast and some of the chicken carcass, which I've frozen. Probably by Sunday, I'll unfreeze it and do something with that remaining breast, and I'll make soup with the bones.

From one chicken, so many varied meals! You'll note that the chicken dishes I've shared this week have been cooked using the following methods:
  1. in a cast iron skillet on the stove top
  2. on a baking tray in the oven
  3. and the dish I'm sharing today was also cooked in the oven but in an Le Creuset casserole pot.
Le Creuset is actually fabulous cookware. Maybe you're familiar with it; it's everywhere nowadays. And as with my cast-iron birthday skillet, my mother also bought me my Le Creuset casserole pot, I think for Christmas one year, with a set of kitchen towels and matching pot holders -- my mother, forever practical.

In the pic to the left you can see the chicken quarters sitting upright in my Le Creuset casserole pot with a chopped leek, half a chopped red cabbage, and 4 foraged apples.

I love the foraging trend or picking fruit from overhanging trees. I saw a bloke on the footpath alongside a major road the other day picking apples from tree branches which hung over a private fence onto public property.

I've been tempted to forage pears from a tree in my neighborhood with a couple branches hanging over a public footpath, but I wasn't game enough.

The apples I foraged for today's dish are from a tree by my cottage in Chautauqua Park. There are at least half dozen trees in the park laden with apples ripe for picking, and residents of the park are permitted to help themselves.

I did just that yesterday. I helped myself to at least 4 pounds.

In addition to the above ingredients, to the pot I added coriander seeds, which I'd foraged from a friend's garden.

Coriander seeds form at the end of the growing season when cilantro plants no longer produce leaves.

Instead, small seeds appear on the stalks and these can be picked and used immediately or you can dry them and store them in glass jars.

The seeds have a spicy, citrus tone. You may be familiar with garam masala, an Indian dish, which relies on coriander in combination with cumin. Coriander seeds are also used in pickling.

I added about a teaspoon of coriander to the chicken and foraged apples; the zesty seeds enhanced the casserole no end. And before I put the pot into the oven--with lid on--I added about half a cup of water to keep the ingredients from drying out and sticking to the sides and base. At 350 degrees, it took about 45 mins for the casserole to cook.

To Serve: Because the vegetables and apple cook down, becoming quite soft and creating a delicious liquor, I served the meal in a bowl. I topped the chicken with a sprig of fresh dill as it has a flavor somewhat similar to caraway, and caraway is most often used to spice up cabbage and apple in eastern European dishes.

Rather than use another pot and the stove top to cook a side of rice or another starch for mopping up the juice, I economized on energy and dishes, drizzling a couple slices of crusty bread with olive oil and popping them in the oven on a baking tray.

Oven-fried bread was a good decision; there's nothing like dipping chunks of crispy browned-bread into a peasant-like casserole to make one feel as though eating dinner with your fingers and a spoon is perfectly acceptable.

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