Chicken & Apricot Casserole
So I fully appreciated that, on paper at least, the ingredients list may sound slightly strange when all put together (chicken + apricot jam + onions + herbs + oranges + garlic + dried apricot). Like it is some sort of odd dinner/breakfast hybrid. But I promise you, it more than works! I used to have a real aversion to mixing sweet and savoury in the same dish and my younger self would have definitely turned her nose up at this dish. It used to baffle me (and still actually does) that in the South, it is common to enjoy your breakfast waffles and maple syrup with a side of fried chicken! So although I doubt I’ll ever get that deep in the whole sweet + savoury party, this chicken casserole has the perfect combination of flavours and is so darn tasty!
Citrus fruits are at their best during the winter months, which is slightly ironic as I tend to associate them with hotter sunnier times. It is important to get in plenty of Vitamin C rich foods, particularly as the colder weather draws in, so that we can increase the antioxidant protection from our diet and help fight off those pesky germs. Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid, and helps boost our immune system as well as supporting our collagen production for healthier skin…which, if I’m being totally honest, I could really take all the help I can get on that front! 37 seems to have snuck up pretty quickly on me and I’m not sure my crowsfeet like it! Although Vitamin C can be somewhat destroyed during the cooking process, this recipe is a great way to reap the benefits of citrus fruits without even realising it….which is particularly helpful since my kids aren’t exactly citrus lovers most of the time.
It can be as easy as throwing all of the ingredients together in a casserole dish, although I like to brown my chicken slightly on the hob before I pop it in the oven. It comes out deliciously sticky and full of flavour and a firm favourite of all of the family.
· 500g Chicken on the bone (I like dark meat, my husband likes breast)
· A handful of fresh Sage
· A handful of Fresh Rosemary sprigs
· Juice and Zest from 2 oranges (equivalent to approximately 80-100mls of juice)
· 30g Dried Apricots
· 2 tbsp Apricot Jam (I used no added sugar St Dalfour)
· 1 Red Onion
· 6 Garlic Cloves
· Salt & fresh Black Pepper
· Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees.
· Either in the casserole dish or a separate griddle pan, brown the chicken skin side down over a medium heat for 5 or so minutes.
· Set aside.
· Zest and juice the oranges.
· Chop the dried apricots.
· Peel and slice the red onion.
· Peel the garlic cloves.
· In a small bowl, mix together the apricot jam, orange zest and juice, salt and pepper.
· Place the browned chicken, garlic cloves, sliced onions, dried apricots and fresh herbs on a casserole dish and pour the jam/juice marinade all over.
· Cover and cook in the oven for 45-55 minutes, depending on how big your chicken pieces are, making sure it is fully cooked through and the juices run clear.
· Serve over a bed of wholegrains (like quinoa, spelt or rice) with some green leafy veg on the side.