The best thing about today was hanging from branches with my back hunched over and my hands reaching up and behind to find the biggest, juiciest, and highest up apples in the tree. On our third walk of the day, after sitting out in a sunny field with a few ripples of wind in our hair and hot fruit tea in glass jars to warm up after a classic picnic of sandwiches with goats cheese and cucumber, we wandered the trails to see where dad had found an open beach where he had often spent evenings after work, looking out at the mountains across an ocean that separates Canada and the United States.
After almost falling, and with small burrs on my sweater and dried apple leaves tangled in my hair, mum and I left the park with apples tucked away in every pocket and filling our hands. Beautiful, crunchy apples, some softly hinted green and yellow, and others a bright yellow that we had snagged from the trees before the bears in the area had them when they all fell to the ground. Evidence of bears lingered by their smell around the marshes and under the trees. There were apples left on higher branches, out of reach, that we imagined grasping with our hands, or biting into the sweet juices of the apples with every bite. It made us envious of the birds, ones so easily able to reach the well-sunned fruits, that would be enjoying the delicious flavours much sooner than we ever would. And so we joked that next time, we would be the ones carrying a tall ladder down the trail, to manoeuvre it through the twists and turns of the path, and finally to where there were full apple trees.
Our way back was filled with my mind wandering to recipes filled with plump apples, and counting our prizes over and over. Before long, as we trekked up the hill to where the car was parked, apples still teetering between my fingers, I had begun a plan for supper... Those apples included in both the main dish and dessert after mum called from behind how perfect they would be in a crumble, but I was already there, quietly measuring the perfect balance between almond meal, butter, and a touch of sugar.
With my first bite of one of the smaller apples picked on our way back from the beach, brilliantly red and with a touch of shine against the sun, I knew that more apples would be saved for just this purpose, they had the perfect balance of sweet and sour, and a satisfying crunch. A little apple that I could cover in a balled fist didn't last long though, and I was left fighting the urge for another, already concerned about saving as many as I could to enjoy later, away from the peaceful fields and pathways where we walked so I could once again think back to today's enjoyment in sitting on the beach, picnicking with mum, and carefully picking apples while knowing bears had recently enjoyed the same delicacy.
Combing the sweet flavours of apple and caramelized onions, with a stronger essence of fresh rosemary, we had a succulent dish of baked chicken, that absorbed the rich taste and turned out delectably moist. It was exactly as I had envisaged on the trail, with autumn's fruits meeting the comfort of a dish of baked chicken.
Apple Baked Chicken
I love this recipe because although it combines chicken with an unconventional pair, being apple, it requires very little technique and returns a delicious meal, filled with lots of rich flavour and very tender chicken. It's the perfect fall dish: warm, comforting, and perfectly paired with roasted vegetables fresh from the market.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 tablespoons maple syrup
3 medium apples, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped finely
3 chicken breasts
1 - 2 cups milk
In a pan over medium-low heat, toss chopped onions in oil and cook until softened. Pour in maple syrup and cook until bubbling, the liquid should begin to burn off, which will take about 5 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile preheat the oven to 350°F and toss the sliced apples and rosemary in a 9" square baking pan.
Position chicken breasts over apples in the baking pan, cutting them in half for smaller pieces, and spoon the caramelized onions on top. Fill the pan with milk, enough to cover the tops of the chicken breasts.
Cover pan with aluminum foil and place in the centre of the oven, cook for 30 minutes.
Carefully check the chicken, turning it over and returning to the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes if not completely cooked through.
Serve with baked potato rounds or rice and vegetables.
Enjoy! xx S
Labels: apple, baked, caramelised, chicken, dinner, meal, onions, rosemary