On my Wisconsin bucket list: visit a cranberry bog, then use said cranberries to make Cranberry Chicken.
One of the dozens of things I didn’t know about Wisconsin when Ben coerced me to move here four years ago was that, for the past 20 years, Wisconsin has led the nation in cranberry production. Sure, the Massachusetts bogs of cranberry juice commercial fame are picturesque, but it’s plaid-clad Wisconsin that grows the largest haul.
So, in addition to the state’s fabulous selection of cheese and beer (which can be conveniently enjoyed at this public park biergarten), Wisconsin can boast cranberries too, and I’m glad. These tart little jewels give me happy holiday tingles and provide much-needed brightness on winter evenings, when the sun sets at 4:30. Why does daylight savings time need to end again?
As with nearly all of my groceries, I find my cranberries at Pick ‘N Save, the state’s largest buyer of local produce. I love seeing the way the cranberries are piled proudly right at the front of the store, like a big stack of rubies. Each red gems is prescious.
Fresh cranberries receive the most attention at Thanksgiving in the form of cranberry sauce (please promise me you will make your own from scratch this year—I made this version with orange and honey last year. It takes less than 20 minutes and puts the can to shame!). Cranberry Chicken, however, proves that fresh cranberries also deserve a spot in your weeknight dinner rotation all fall and winter long.
This one pan wonder begins with fresh cranberries that are cooked down with honey, shallots, and spices to form a sweet, sticky, savory glaze. Chicken thighs are seared until golden and crispy on the outside and sweet and juicy on the inside. The sauce is slathered on the chicken, then earthy, fresh thyme is sprinkled on the sauce. Everything happens in the same pan, and fewer dishes = better tasting food. Can we agree?
To make the meal complete, I served our Cranberry Chicken with a side of wild rice and our favorite Balsamic Brussels Sprouts. Our dinner was cozy, bright, and a reminder that every season has jewels to treasure.
One Pan Cranberry Chicken. Juicy chicken with a sticky cranberry glaze. Sweet, tangy and ready in only 30 minutes!
Yield: Serves 2-3
Total Time: 30 minutes
For the Chicken
- 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
For the Cranberry Glaze
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 3 tablespoons minced shallot
- 12 ounces fresh or frozen, thawed cranberries, rinsed
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, for serving
- Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and place on a plate or tray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and let come to room temperature while you prepare the glaze.
- In a large, deep skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high. Add the shallot and sauté until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the cranberries, water, cider vinegar, and honey. Cook until the berries soften and begin to lose their shape, 5-8 minutes. Stir often so that the berries cook on all sides and much of the liquid cooks away. Once soft, roughly smash the berries with the back of a wooden spoon so that they burst, then stir in the ginger, salt, and allspice. The mixture will be very thick.
- Transfer the cranberry glaze to a bowl. With a paper towel, carefully wipe the skillet clean, then heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high. Once hot and shimmering, add the chicken thighs in a single layer, seasoning-side down. Let the chicken cook for 5-7 minutes undisturbed, until the first side is golden brown and does not stick to the pan. For the best browning, try not to move the chicken around in the pan as it cooks. Flip the chicken over, then cook it an additional 4-6 minutes, until the juices run clear and a meat thermometer inserted in the center reads 165 degrees F. Transfer the chicken to a serving plate and spoon the cranberry glaze over the top. Let rest 5 minutes, sprinkle with chopped fresh thyme, and serve with extra cranberry glaze for dipping.
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