By Brooke Marshall
I can only remember eating apricot chicken twice before. The first time was at a family friend’s house. I remember liking it so much that I asked for the recipe. She just replied, “Oh, it’s so simple, just mix up apricot preserves, Russian dressing, and an onion soup packet. Then pour it over the chicken and bake it.” Over ten years later, my parents were visiting me in Ambler and we’d decided to eat in the following night. I had a chicken from a local farm in the freezer and remembered the mouth-watering apricot chicken dish. So the next day we went out for the three ingredients to make apricot chicken. Then that night we also made a greens salad and tabbouleh, substituting couscous for bulgur as I usually do, and using a pile of fresh parsley from my Pennypack Farm crop share. It might seem silly that I remember this meal so vividly, but I’m so glad I do because it was the last meal I made with my Mom before she passed away less than two months later.
So when chicken thighs and legs were on sale at Clay Brick Farms at the Ambler Farmers’ Market, I felt compelled to make a similar meal again to share with my market family. This time, something magical happened. I can only guess that I somehow haphazardly bought the perfect combination of ingredients, but the result was so amazing I wanted to eat every last piece of chicken as soon as I took my first bite. I did stop myself in case you’re wondering and was rewarded by having leftovers for lunch during the week. I was also delighted that the couscous made the perfect vehicle to sop up the apricot sauce left on my plate from the chicken. So I probably won’t do this often, but I’m going to share the brands of ingredients I used to make this meal in hopes that you’ll have the same miraculous experience I did if you decide to try the recipe.
BAKED APRICOT CHICKEN DINNER
Baked Apricot Chicken –
- 3-4 packages of bone-in chicken thighs/legs, skin removed (Clay Brick Farms)
- 13 oz jar apricot preserves (Bonne Maman)
- 1 8 oz bottle French salad dressing (Annie’s Naturals)
- 1 packet French onion dip mix (Simply Organic)
Market Veggie Couscous –
- 1 bunch spring onions, thinly sliced (Clay Brick Farms)
- 1 bunch asparagus, tough ends removed and chopped into one-inch pieces (Clay Brick Farms)
- 1 small box Cremini mushrooms, sliced (Davidson’s Mushrooms)
- 1-2 Tbs olive oil
- 1 10 oz box couscous (Near East)
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 Tbs butter
- 1/4 tsp salt
Greens Salad –
- 4 small or 2 large heads of lettuce, washed and torn (Pennypack Farm and Taproot Farm)
- Balsamic vinaigrette (Homemade or Newman’s Own)
- Preheat oven to 350° While oven is preheating, remove the skin from the chicken and place in a greased or nonstick-sprayed baking dish. In a bowl, mix the apricot preserves, French dressing, and onion dip mix. Once combined, pour the apricot mixture over the chicken and bake in the oven for 60 minutes. Baste the chicken in the apricot mixture at 20 and 40 minutes.
- While the chicken bakes, chop the veggies for the market veggie couscous. Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 10-12 minutes until they begin to brown. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the mushrooms and asparagus sautéing for another 3 minutes until the asparagus are bright green and crisp-tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
- Prepare the couscous based on the package directions replacing water with chicken broth and cutting the amount of salt in half. (In a saucepan, add the chicken broth, butter, and salt. Then bring to a boil. Stir in the couscous, cover, and remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork.) Mix the sautéed veggies with the couscous, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cover again to keep the couscous warm.
- Remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest while you prepare the salad. Tear the lettuce and toss with balsamic vinaigrette.
Brooke Marshall is a market volunteer, Ambler socialite and overall good egg. This season she will be the market’s resident locavore, turning market proceeds into culinary delights. If you see her at market, say hello. And if you make one of her recipes, bring it to market for her approval. Only kidding about the last part.