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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rhubarb Apple Butter Chicken

Growing up in a small city, we always had a big back yard.  Unlike me, my mom is quite the green-thumb, so along with a variety of beautiful flower, trees and shrubs, she always grew herbs and a a few vegetables, including rhubarb (apparently it is considered a vegetable by some folks, and a fruit by others).  Each spring, as soon as it was ready, all I had to do was pluck it from the garden and start chomping on it.  Yes, I kid you not, I would even eat it raw, sometimes with sugar, sometimes without.  I have always enjoyed its tartness.

Now that we live in a large urban centre, and a small house with very little available garden space, I have much less access to rhubarb.  Once in a while I'll find it at a farmer's market or, even more seldom, a grocery store, but it's really not something I see too often.  So a few weeks ago, when I noticed that Fiesta Farms carries Stahlbush's frozen organic rhubarb and I couldn't resist picking up a few bags.
Rhubarb
Instead of the eponymous rhubarb-strawberry-crumble-type-thing, however, I was inspired to use it in a savoury dish.  I was not disappointed.  This was spectacular!  In fact, I ate so much, I actually gave myself a bellyache.  The chicken is so moist and tender and the sauce is a perfect balance of sweet, savoury and tart.  AMAZING!!

2-600g bags frozen rhubarb, or about 1.4 lb fresh, chopped and leaves removed, cooked until soft
2 shallots

1 tsp oil (olive or canola)
1 onion, cut into 8-10 pieces
3/4 of a head of green cabbage, thinly sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened apple butter
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 cups chicken stock
1.5 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
2 tbls maple syrup, honey or sugar/sweetener of choice, or to taste (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Place shallots in food processor and process until very finely chopped.  Add softened rhubarb and pulse a few times.  Set aside.

In a large skillet or deep pot, saute onion and cabbage in oil over medium heat until softened.  Add garlic, cinnamon, apple butter, rhubarb/shallot mixture, vinegar, stock and chicken.  Turn heat down to medium low and simmer until chicken is cooked through and sauce is thickened.  Season to taste and add sweetener if you find apple butter doesn't cut tartness of rhubarb enough for your palate.  Serve over a whole grain (I used quinoa, but it would also be amazing over brown rice, buckwheat groats, or millet).