Monday, 28 November 2011

Chicken with Quinces in a Creamy Spiced Saffron Sauce

I was lucky to find some quinces for sale last week, although I suspect the season is drawing to a close. They are not easy to find, anyway. However, if you are so fortunate as to get your hands on some, this is an excellent thing to do with them.

Since this is a rich and special dish, you may wish to serve it to company. Parts of it can be done in advance, which would make that quite possible. Cook the quinces, shallots and chicken, and put them in one covered container. Simmer the cider and seasonings, strain and keep in another covered container. Then, when ready to proceed, mix them in your pan and cook for the 20 minutes (a little longer to allow them to reheat) and add the cream at the end as usual.

4 servings
1 1/4 hours - 1 hour prep time

Chicken with Quinces in a Creamy Spiced Saffron Sauce
6 large shallots
2 large or 3 medium quinces
2 tablespoons butter
500 grams (1 pound) skinless, boneless chicken pieces
1 1/2 cups apple cider
6 pods of cardamom
4 slices of ginger, each the size of a quarter
2 teaspoons coriander seed, ground
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
the juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup light (5% or 10%) cream
1 tablespoon arrowroot or cornstarch

Peel the shallots and cut them in halves or quarters lengthwise. Peel, quarter, core and slice the quinces. Make sure the chicken is in bite-sized pieces.

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet. Put in the quince slices, and cook them gently for a minute or two. Add the shallots and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until both are softened and slightly browned.

Meanwhile, put the quince peelings into a pot with the cardamom pods and peeled ginger slices. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes, while the quinces, shallots and chicken cook.

When the quinces and shallots are softened and browned, remove them from the pan. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter, and brown the chicken pieces well. Return the quinces and shallots to the pan, and strain the apple cider into it as well, discarding the solids. Grind and add the coriander seed, and add the salt and saffron threads, rubbed between your fingers to break them up a bit. Add the lemon juice.

Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring regularly, until slightly thickened. Mix the arrowroot or cornstarch into the cold cream until no lumps remain. Stir it into the chicken mixture, and cook until thickened, just a minute or two. Do not let it boil once the cream goes in or it may curdle.

Serve with rice.

Last year at this time I made Christmas Plum Pudding. As I noted, I was late in getting them going, but they were perfectly fine. It's not too late!

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