They say that everyone is a gardener in the springtime. I can feel that warm sunshine and cool dirt calling my name just about now, but based on my record I know that come the first heat wave in July, I’ll be letting the weeds have a heyday in my garden. Similarly, at the first cool snap in autumn turns everyone into an apple farmer. My social media feed is full of friends dressed in harvest-inspired attire, picking apples at their local orchard throughout September and October. (And who can blame them? Pictures of kids picking apples are simply adorable!)
Photo by Elizabeth Licitra
Locally-grown apples take center stage for those few autumn months and into the holiday season, but then drop off the scene in the winter months. Yet with the technology we have today, Weaver’s Orchard’s apples maintain their fall-fresh crispness well into springtime thanks to their advanced cold storage cooler.
This week’s featured apple at Weaver’s Orchard is Braeburn, a firm and tart eating apple. It’s on sale for just .99c/lb, which is a great deal at half what they are selling for at Giant grocery stores. During the winter months you’ll usually find me crunching on a firm, tart apple like Braeburn or Stayman or a firm sweet-tart apple like Cameo or Pink Lady. So pick up some good locally grown firm-tart apples this week and try your hand at this recipe for apple-stuffed maple-pecan chicken.
This recipe was born for me in a little restaurant in Vermont, where I first tried pecan-encrusted maple-mustard chicken. Then last fall it took a new twist when we visited some friends in France and our host served a delicious dish of walnut-encrusted apple-stuffed chicken. She and I talked about how I had often made a maple-pecan chicken, but had never tried stuffing it with apple. Pecans and maple syrup aren’t too readily available in France, so walnuts and honey or sugar were the ingredients of choice in her recipe.
I recently melded these two recipes together and left the options open for your preferred nuts or sweeteners. Try it and see what you prefer!
- 1 apple, peeled and sliced
- 2 chicken breasts (about 1 -1.5 lbs.)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tbsp. whole grain Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp. maple syrup or honey
- ⅔ cup breadcrumbs
- ⅔ cup pecans or walnuts
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Butter or mildly flavored oil
- Peel apple and slice it thinly.
- Blend breadcrumbs*, pecans, salt and pepper together in a food processor until pecans are finely ground. Transfer to pie pan or other small, shallow dish.
- Combine beaten egg, mustard and maple syrup together in another small, shallow dish.
- Cut chicken breasts in half and cut pockets in the chicken. Add apple slices.
- Coat with egg mixture and dip into bread mixture.
- Refrigerate chicken for approximately 1 hour.
- Heat butter or oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add chicken pieces to the skillet and sauté approximately 3 minutes per side until juices run clear. (It will become somewhat square when you stuff it with apples, so make sure every side gets cooked.)