Basil and apple-marinated organic chicken recipe

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  • Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients

Chicken
  • 1½ cups apple juice, preferably organic
  • 2 tablespoons basil pesto, homemade or store-bought
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 good-size boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, preferably organic and free-range
Polenta
  • 1½ tablespoons canola oil, preferably expeller-pressed
  • ½ medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 3 cups vegetable stock, homemade or store-bought
  • 1 cup nonfat milk
  • 1½ cups uncooked polenta (preferably not instant)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • Canola oil, preferably expeller-pressed
Cider Gravy
  • 1½ tablespoons canola oil, preferably expeller-pressed
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups organic apple cider
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 recipe Haricots Verts Salad, to serve
  • 1 recipe Apple-Fennel Slaw, to serve
How to Make It
  1. To marinate the chicken: In a large zipped plastic bag, combine the apple juice and pesto and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the chicken breasts and move them around in the bag to coat well with the marinade. Expel the air from the bag and zip it closed. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 12 hours. Turn the bag every 2 hours or so to ensure the chicken is evenly covered. (Alternatively, marinate the chicken in a shallow, nonreactive dish, turning the chicken several times to ensure it’s coated evenly. Keep the dish covered and in the refrigerator.)
  2. To Make the Polenta
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly oil the foil.
  4. In a good-size saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat and when hot, sauté the onion and garlic for 2 to 3 minutes or until the onion softens. Take care the garlic does not burn. Add the wine, bring to a boil, and cook at the boil for 6 to 8 minutes or until the wine reduces by half.
  5. Add the stock and milk and bring to a rapid simmer. Watch carefully so that the liquid does not boil over and adjust the heat up or down to maintain the simmer.
  6. With the liquid simmering, slowly add the polenta, whisking as you do. When all is added, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring almost constantly, for 10 to 12 minutes or until the polenta is soft and cooked through.
  7. Remove polenta from heat and fold in the olive oil, parsley, basil, and oregano.
  8. Pour the polenta onto the prepared baking sheet and spread evenly over the pan so that the polenta is about ½-inch thick. Set aside to cool completely.
  9. To make the Gravy
  10. In a medium-size saucepan, heat the oil on medium heat and when hot, stir the flour into it to make a roux, or paste. Cook the roux for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture turns a light brown.
  11. Whisk the apple cider into the roux to avoid clumping. The gravy should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. If the gravy is too thick, whisk in more apple cider. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside, covered, to keep warm.
  12. To make the Chicken
  13. Prepare a gas or charcoal grill so that the heating elements or charcoal are medium-hot. Before you start the fire, rub the grate with a little canola oil to prevent sticking. (Alternatively, heat a grill pan on the stovetop.)
  14. Lift the chicken from the marinade and let most of it drip back into the bag or dish. Grill for 10 to 12 minutes, turning at least once, until the chicken breasts are cooked through. Let the chicken breasts rest for a few minutes and then slice each breast into slices, each approximately ½-inch thick.
  15. To serve, ladle 2 to 3 tablespoons of gravy on one side of a warm serving plate and top with a spoonful of polenta. Top the polenta with chicken slices. Put some slaw on the plate and a serving of the haricots verts salad next to it.
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