A couple of weeks ago, I decided (for who knows what reason) that I needed to put cranberry chicken on our upcoming dinner menu. I made it a couple of years ago and felt it was time to give it another go. And cranberries just sounded really good.
From what I remembered, the past recipe basically combined a can of cranberry sauce with a bunch of barbecue sauce. Somewhere in the mixture, the cranberry flavor was lost and the chicken tasted like plain ol' barbecue chicken. I was determined that this time, my cranberry chicken would taste like cranberries. (I know. Who would expect that?) So, I set off on the search for the perfect cranberry chicken.
And, whaddya know. I hit the jackpot on the very first recipe I tried! Whoa boy. This chicken was plate-lickin' good. Not that I actually did that. *ahem* On to the recipe!
Cranberry Glazed Chicken Breasts
Adapted from Cully's Kitchen (Which has fantastic pics of the recipe!)
1 Tbls butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 large shallot, chopped (optional)
6-8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 cups fresh cranberries **See NOTES**
1 ½ cups sugar
¾ cup water
2/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tbls apple cider vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place butter, onion, and shallot to 9x13 glass baking dish and bake in preheated oven until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
While onions are softening, combine cranberries, sugar, and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
Remove dish from oven, push onions to either end. Place chicken into baking dish and return to oven. Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.
In small mixing bowl, combine ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, and mustard. Add to warm cranberry mixture. Remove chicken from oven, scoop onions into cranberry mixture; stir to combine. Pour cranberry mixture over chicken and return to oven. Bake until cranberry mixture is slightly caramelized, which should be about 20 minutes, (or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 180 degrees on thermometer).
NOTES: The shallot is completely optional. I happened to have one on hand, so I tossed it in.
I only used 4 chicken breasts, but there was plenty of sauce for much more. I served rice with ours--and the sauce is just as incredible over steamed rice as it is over the chicken.
Speaking of sauce--you can substitute canned "whole berry" cranberry sauce instead of making your own, but I wouldn't recommend it. My original plan was to do just that. When I opened the can and saw that mound of gelatinous goop glowering back at me, I wondered if I could go through with it. Since when does "whole berry cranberry sauce" on the outside of the can translate into "cranberry jelly with a few whole berries tossed in" on the inside? I've apparently been very spoiled at Thanksgiving in recent years. Thank goodness I remembered the fresh cranberries waiting in my freezer. Immediately, the canned gel was ziplocked and stashed in the freezer for some other application. You could use it in this recipe, but it will certainly change the fresh flavor of the dish. And, tossing your own fresh sauce together is so easy, why would you opt to go the canned route anyway?
In all honesty, I don't really know how long I baked my chicken. I used our meat thermometer, instead of the timer as a guide. I did watch the clock, though, and think that my approximate times are fairly close.