Like so many folks especially in this part of the country, I appreciate being able to eat seasonally — to hone in on what’s best at each time of year to enjoy its peak flavor and revel in its often brief local appearance.
But there’s one item I keep in my freezer nearly year-round, even when its season is long gone.
Cranberries. Frozen ones to be exact.
I know, I know, they’re so fall and winter, you’re thinking. Why in the world would I want to partake of them in spring or summer?
Because their vivid color makes anything special. Because their sweet-sour fruitiness wakes up whatever they’re paired with. And because, how can I resist something that reminds me of the most festive, family-and-friend-filled convivial time of year?
It used to be that cranberries were available only at that time of year. I remember how magazine editors like those at Sunset would hoard them once fresh ones made their appearance at markets in October, then freeze them for testing recipes for the following year’s recipes.
Thank goodness, most grocery stores now carry them in the freezer case year-round. Thank goodness, because that means you can enjoy them in dishes such as “Cranberry-Balsamic Chicken Thighs,” whenever the craving strikes.
I spotted this recipe a few months back in an issue of EatingWell, a magazine for which I’ve been proud to write.
This one-pan wonder is easy enough to make on a weeknight. Chicken thighs are cooked in a saute pan with cranberries, balsamic vinegar, honey and thyme until the berries start to break down a little to create a thick, syrupy sauce.
It’s reminiscent of sweet and sour pork with its fruity sweetness and tartness — but so much more interesting.
Just make some rice, farro, couscous or roasted sweet potatoes to serve alongside.
And thank your lucky stars that you had that bag of cranberries in the freezer.
Cranberry-Balsamic Chicken Thighs
4 bone-in chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 1/2 cups cranberries, thawed if frozen
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin-side down, reduce heat to medium and cook, undisturbed, until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Remove all but 1 tablespoons fat from the pan.
Turn the chicken over and add cranberries, vinegar, honey and thyme to the pan. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part without touching the bone reaches 165 degrees, 10 to 12 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a serving platter, increase heat to high, add 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, uncovered, stirring, until the sauce is thickened, about 1 minute. Serve the chicken with the sauce.
From EatingWell January/February 2018
More Cranberry Dishes to Enjoy Year-Round: Cranberry Coffee Cake
And: Cranberry Roly Poly