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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Simple and Delicious Harvest Chicken Roulades

I love Fall!  I hate the fact that it means cold weather is on its way, but I love those delicious harvest flavors.  I could eat buttercup, butternut, or kabocha squash every day!  All I need is salt, pepper, and garlic, and some time to brown in the oven, and squash is a meal fit for a king to me.  I am also a huge fanatic of tangy, crunchy apples.  Apple picking in the mountains has to be one of my favorite things to do all year long!  I love being out in nature in the perfect, just-cool-enough weather in early to mid Fall.  There's just something about apple picking that gives me calm and peace and brings out the best in everyone.  I get so excited about all of the delicious creations that I can create with all of those apples too.  My favorites are Sweet Tango, Jazz, and Fuji.  One of the easiest things to both make and enjoy with apples are these amazing muffins from my Jewish cookbook.  They have diced green apples, shredded carrots, shredded zucchini, shredded coconut, chopped nuts, cinnamon, and I like to add orange zest too.  Too good!  As much as I miss swimming in mountains of berries of all varieties, I always find the flavors Fall so inspiring.

My harvest chicken roulades are inspired by the delicious flavors and colors of Fall.  I mallet out chicken thigh fillets, stuff them with a filling of ground sausage, instant mashed potato flakes, onions, garlic, diced apple, and dried cranberries and sear them with a lovely coating of paprika in butter and oil before baking to tender perfection.  They are simple and they are amazing.  Though a bit of time is required, these are so easy and so rewarding.  It's nice to make the filling a day ahead to make the load lighter for weeknight meals.  The reduced sauce is a real treat.  The intensified chicken flavor is so amazingly rich and buttery that it beats the pants off of any gravy.  I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do!

Harvest Chicken Roulades
1 pack chicken thigh fillets, flattened with a mallet until even and thin enough to roll out
1 roll Tennessee Pride hot breakfast sausage
Salt and pepper to taste
Paprika to taste
A few dashes Trader Joe’s 25 Seasoning Salute (optional)
Olive oil to drizzle
1 TB butter plus a mixture of olive oil and vegetable oil for searing
Water or apple juice to cover bottom of pan during baking

~1/2 – ¾ c instant mashed potatoes (Idahoan)
1 green or other tart, firm apple, cut into 1” cubes
1 small onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, smashed and minced (save one for the chicken seasoning)
1/4c dried cranberries, soaked in dark rum (microwave for 30 sec to 1 min, or until plump)
1 stalk celery, diced (optional)
1. This is not a filling that will stick together like a stuffing.  If you prefer that, you will want to add in an egg or egg yolk to the filling mixture before stuffing the chicken.

2. You will have leftover filling with this recipe, so you can either choose to halve it, freeze leftovers, or use a second pack of chicken.

1. Over medium to medium high heat, saute onions and celery, if using, until softened.  Add in apples and cook until tender.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant.  Stir in cranberries.  Reserve mixture in a separate bowl.

2. Take pan up to medium high and brown sausage until golden.  Add in instant mashed potato flakes until desired consistency achieved.  Add in vegetable mixture and adjust seasoning.

3. Fill chicken and roll up, secure with toothpicks.

4.  Sear chicken in butter and oil mixture over medium high heat until golden on all sides.

5. Place in a baking pan.  Pour in just enough warm water or warm apple juice or cider to cover the bottom of the pan.  Cover with foil.  Bake at 375 F for 15-20  minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked. 

6. Pour off sauce that forms in bottom of pan and transfer to a mug or small heat proof bowl.  Microwave for about 10 minutes, or until a thick, richly-flavored sauce is formed.  It should look almost like a gravy. Stir once or twice during cooking to avoid the formation of a skin.  Pour thickened sauce over each roulades and serve with white rice, mashed potatoes, or yummy biscuits!  Be sure to remove toothpicks before serving.

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