Monday, February 25, 2008

Rehydrated Cranberries, or What Hath Science Wrought?

Hey, did you know that cranberries are a seasonal food? I didn’t, but they are. Even worse, cranberry season isn’t spring. I should have realized this when I decided to try this apple cranberry chicken recipe I saw in a magazine a while ago, especially since the cover of the magazine says “Fall favorite recipes”.


The recipe called for a cup of fresh or frozen cranberries, so when I was at the grocery store picking up chicken breasts and apples I cruised the produce section for cranberries but, of course, didn’t find any. The recipe suggested frozen cranberries might exist, though, so I went to look for the frozen fruit. It turns out that Food City, despite their extensive selection of claw machine presidents, does not have a frozen fruit section. Frozen fruit, instead, is found in the ice cream toppings area, and it seems that nobody likes cranberries on their ice cream.

Frustrated, I called the Fresh Market. I didn’t actually go there, because the store intimidates me, but I was willing to risk it if they had fresh or frozen cranberries. The girl on the phone gently explained that they had neither, and managed not to ridicule me for wondering if the FRESH market might have frozen food. I was about to give up on the whole thing and make honey sesame chicken instead, but the internet informed me that you can rehydrate dried cranberries by microwaving them in apple cider. I was dubious but curious.

Hey, did you know that apple cider is also seasonal? Bite me, Food City. Unsweetened natural apple juice works just as well.

Anyway, the recipe said to put the chicken in the bottom of the slow cooker. That was fairly easy after I got the chicken all cleaned and trimmed. (Boneless, skinless chicken breasts still have a lot of weird looking things and pieces of fat clinging to them. Don’t argue with me. I know what “gross” looks like, and it’s those yellowy pieces of fat clinging to the edges of the chicken breast. No way am I eating that.)

Next I had to peel and slice an apple, and layer it over the chicken breast.


I am in love with that slicing job. Those knives I bought with my Christmas gift card are awesome, but so are my burgeoning knife skills. I could be a chef, or even Gina Davis in “The Long Kiss Goodnight”.

After the apple I had to rehydrate the cranberries. The tubes in my interweb suggested that I could put a cup of them in a bowl with a half cup of juice and microwave it for a minute, but this sounded incredibly like the things we used to do when microwaves came out and it was some sort of huge amazing thing that marshmallows and hot dogs exploded that we used to microwave them over and over just to watch. Surprisingly enough, the microwaving thing actually worked:


When I scooped them out with the slotted spoon, some of them were actually even round.

Anyway, the cranberries went on top of the apples, and then I poured a mixture of apple juice and brown sugar over that:

before cooking

Then it cooked on low for eight hours.

after cooking

The recipe said six to eight, but I always err on the long side, because then the meat is super tender and falls apart on your plate.


The apples formed a soft crust around the chicken, which was really juicy, but the recipe needs some spice. It was sweet, and tasted really fruity, but there was nothing to cut the sweetness even though I used a sour Granny Smith apple. The recipe would probably work better with pork chops, as an alternative to glopping a lump of applesauce on them, but if I make it again I’ll have to add some cloves or something.

Of course, then it would pretty much be chicken poached in potpourri.

Also, those potatoes are instant. Don’t tell anyone.