Wednesday, 23 January 2013

apple butter chicken thighs with cocoa nibs

day nine: 14stone (196lbs) - staying this weight but feeling like a god...

... with the globalisation of every high-street it's getting harder and harder these days to go away to another country and purchase something that is truly unique or simply made locally to that particular place... you have to be prepared to travel, explore and discover those secret little boutique emporiums that still do exist, in order to find something special... and i'm a real stickler for reading labels too, after-all, something may look pretty and home-made but if you're in California there's no point buying something in an artisan shop that was home-made in France... seems a bit pointless... I want my local, local thank you very much...

... and so it was that The Viking and I found ourselves navigating the winding roads of the Sonoma Valley with my auntie Jean in the back seat telling us the story of how, many years previously she had been along this way and come across the most delightful grocery store... and that if we should happen to see it we should stop for a bite to eat and perhaps purchase some little goodies to take home...  and as if my magic, like the infamous town of Brigadoon rising through the mist somewhere along the St Helena Highway we came across the Oakville Grocery... a store so delightfully packed with home-made produce...row upon row of fabulous tempting jars of caramel... marmalade... mustard... a little deli-counter... packets of the most incredible salted chocolate popcorn that I can still remember the way they tasted even now... and jars of glorious, thick, rich and deeply concentrated apple butter...

apple butter chicken thighs with cocoa nibs
for this months we should cocoa challenge our host Choclette from the Chocolate Log Blog has given us the very tricky task of cooking without sugar and this includes the chocolate... i've cheated entirely... twice... once by cooking a savoury dish which means i'm hardly putting much effort into working this out... and two by using apple butter which although isn't a sugar product it does contain sugar in its cooking process... so sue me... this dish gave me the sticky sweetness I've been craving this past week without being sickly cloying and the cocoa nibs seemed to dissolve into the juice creating a wonderfully rich and intense gravy... I got two meals out of this and served it with fresh green beans, which I adore...

... i'm painfully aware that many of my chicken thigh dishes look similar and this is true however I try and style them but I do hope you can gather from the ingredients that they most definitely don't taste the same in any way... vivre la chicken thighs!

1 packet cornfed free-range mixed chicken thighs and legs
2 tablespoons apple butter
2 teaspoons cocoa nibs
1 stick celery - roughly chopped
1 large carrot - roughly chopped
1 bulb of garlic - halved through the middle
4 medium mushrooms - quartered
1/2 fennel bulb - roughly chopped
2 sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
olive oil
salt and pepper

lay the chopped veg and herbs into the base of a large oven-proof dish, drizzle lightly with olive oil then place the chicken thighs on top

spoon the apple butter on top and then, using your hands massage it into the chicken, then sprinkle the whole dish with salt, pepper and the cocoa nibs

cover tightly with foil and bake in the oven on 120C for an hour, then remove the foil, turn the portions over, turn the heat up to 180C and bake for a further 15 mins, then turn the portions over once more and bake for a final 15mins or until gloriously golden and sticky

eat and of course, enjoy!



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