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!


  1. That looks fabulous! Yes please! Will you come cook for me? :)

  2. What a recipe - such a perfect combination of flavours and textures. It sounds incredible.

  3. All my grilled chicken recipes look the same too, but who cares... we both know they are different in their own special way! I just know this one is amazing! I adore apple butter.. my mother used to make it when I was a kid... I can even remember getting the last jar from her when I went to college.. it was like liquid gold!!

  4. I don't think they all look the same. This one is an entirely different colour, probably due to the cocoa nibs. Love the sound of that store, so many yummy goodies.

  5. I have this vision of a bunch of chicken thighs and legs running around, free-range, chasing balls, expecting treats, and willingly going to slaughter. But then that's just me (not to be recommeded to your aunt).

  6. Written down and will be done next week

  7. Oh man, you've got me sold on this. I love it when I see a recipe that intrigues me and I can't actually imagine how it would taste. Have to try it!

  8. How come you keep telling us that you are still 196lbs? Are you on a Weight Maintenance diet or a Weight Loss diet?? :) That chicken certainly had thighs thinner than yours! (I imagine...)

  9. Oh my goodness! Apple butter is something I've heard of but never tried. It must lend an amazing flavour to this, as the chicken looks fantastic. And salted chocolate popcorn? Not sure what to make of that, but certainly sounds intriguing! :) x

  10. Chicken dishes do mostly look the same but really its the taste that counts. Never come across Apple Butter maybe I need a trip overseas?
    Sounds yummy!

  11. I'm seriously jealous of your grocery store find. I love the sound of this dish. I wouldn't worry about dishes looking similar - it's flavour that matters and there's plenty of that.

  12. What an amazing color on that chicken, perfect!!

  13. I spent an hour last night on my iPad leaaving comments on all my favourite blogs, of which yours is number one as you know, and all of my comments were gobbled up by blogspot, blogspot wont let me comment via iPad!!! So, sorry for late reply, but, what I wanted to say was BLOODY lush! Although I did add more last night when I write it all out! Karen

  14. What a fabulous recipe, all that sticky sweetness, yum! Lovely story to go with it too.

  15. I never think your thigh recipes look similar everyone draws me in and if I have thighs I come here for inspiration. ALWAYS!

    This is lovely...but I so want to travel in the USA now, you've given me the bug and took me back with your

  16. this looks so delicious and succulent - I've never cooked with cocoa nibs - perhaps it's time I did!
    Mary x

  17. Luce muy rico es una delicia al paladar tu versión de pollo quiero un trozo,abrazos y abrazos

  18. How do I go about suing you Dom?

    Lovely post and the fact you've cheated now gives me carte blanche to cheat as often as I like with Random Recipes. AND I don't want any come back from you either.

    So glad you had a wonderful time and that salted chocolate popcorn sounds like a good excuse to visit the Oakville Grocery.

    Thanks for giving me an excuse to get your thighs onto my blog ;-)

  19. Hello Dom,

    Is there something I could substitute for cocoa nibs? I have no idea if you can even get them here! Cocoa powder perhaps? Or could I just leave it out altogether?

    I have most of a jar left that needs unsing and these look delicious!


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