Seizing the season: a chicken-cranberry dish


November 17, 1991|By Charlyne Varkonyi

Now is the time for all good cooks to take advantage of fresh cranberries, one of the joys of the fall season that can be found in food stores only from mid-October through December.

In this Fastlane Feast, I have adapted a recipe from Karen A. Levin's new paperback, "Twenty-Minute Chicken Dishes" (Contemporary Books, $7.95). Although I have substituted the fresh product for her canned sauce, the meal can still get to the table in under 30 minutes with time to spare. The tartness of the cranberries is balanced with cream cheese, sugar and walnuts.

Since cranberries won't be in the stores too long, you may want to buy a couple of extra bags. The fresh berries can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month in their original packaging. They also freeze well; merely double wrap them and they will remain in good quality for up to nine months.

Serve the chicken with herbed squash and store-bought chocolate cake for dessert. Start the meal by putting the water on to boil for the cranberries, then broil the chicken. While the chicken is cooking, you can saute the squash.

Items you should have in your pantry include: Dijon-style mustard, Grand Marnier or orange-flavored liqueur, sugar, butter, salt and pepper.

Your 10-item or fewer shopping list should include:

*2 whole chicken breasts, boned, skinned and cut in half

*1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese

*1 package (2 ounces) black walnuts

*12 ounces fresh cranberries

*2 small yellow squash

*fresh rosemary

*fresh sage or tarragon

*chocolate cake from store bakery

2$Chicken with cranberry-walnut sauce

Makes 4 servings.

1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard

1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur

2 whole chicken breasts, boned, skinned and cut in half

cranberry sauce (recipe below)

3 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup coarsely chopped black walnuts

Combine mustard and liqueur; spread evenly over chicken. Prepare cranberry sauce (see recipe following). Broil chicken 4 to 5 inches from heat source until cooked through -- about 5 to 6 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, combine cranberry sauce and cream cheese, mixing until smooth. Stir in walnuts. Drain with a slotted spoon and serve alongside the chicken. Reserve remaining cranberry sauce for use later in the week with other meats.

Cranberry sauce

Makes 8 servings.

12 ounces fresh cranberries

1 cup water

1 cup sugar or more to taste

Wash the cranberries. Bring the water to a boil, then add thcranberries and the sugar. Bring to another boil; then turn down heat to medium. Cook for 10 minutes or until the skins pop. Skim off the white froth, if any comes to the top. Set aside to cool

slightly until ready to use in chicken recipe.

Herbed squash

Makes 4 servings.

2 tablespoons butter

2 small yellow squash, cut into slices

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 sprig fresh rosemary

1/2 teaspoon fresh sage or tarragon

Melt butter. Saute squash about 3 to 4 minutes until soft, turning occasionally. During cooking, add salt and pepper and herbs. Drain and serve with slotted spoon.

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