team. i know i sometimes regale you with stories of how recipes didn’t work the first (or even the fourth) time i tried them. but this cider glazed chicken with mushrooms and butternut squash was like a gift from the just-got-back-from-away-and-the-fridge-is-bare-save-for-leftovers-we-dragged-home gods. those gods are real, right?
there’s basically always some frozen chicken breasts skulking in the basement freezer and our leftovers haul included some apple cider, roasted butternut squash cubes, and a handful of mushrooms that were moments away from giving up on me. the 1940s housewife in me who hates to waste food was determined to pull dinner out of this mélange.
a quick internet search later, i was off to the grocery store to grab some hard cider (and the groceries for the rest of the week’s meals…). once i got home, it was just a matter of quickly sautéing the mushrooms then the chicken (since i had the leftover roasted squash) and then dinner was basically ready.
while expectations were admittedly set somewhat low for a “use up the leftovers we brought home with us” meal and this dish is not going to win any beauty contents, this cider glazed chicken with mushrooms and butternut squash totally knocked it out of the park. to the point where i was kicking myself for only kind of paying attention as i was dumping spices into the flour to season the chicken.
besides the fact that the flavor is amazing and the spices combine with the cider to form this magical elixir of fall-flavored goodness, it’s easy to make, comes together quickly, makes for great leftovers (if you don’t have a weird thing about microwaved leftover chicken like i do…), and, oh, makes your house smell like all of the best and most amazing things.
so, clearly, i needed to figure out what the heck i had just thrown together. before we even cleaned up from dinner, i quickly scribbled down what i had used and roughly how much, before i completely forgot what had gone into our tasty meal. i resolved to make the dish again, soon, so that i could share it with y’all (and actually, uh, test the “recipe”).
luckily, i either did the most amazing job ever measuring spices with my eyeballs the first time, such that i used *exactly* ¼ teaspoon of each one the first time, ooor this dish is pretty lax and forgiving. either way, when i made the cider glazed chicken again, it was just as delicious (maybe even more so?) as i remembered.
i also figured out how to cook the squash in the skillet you use for everything else so that you don’t have to separately roast the squash cubes, ‘cause who wants to fool with all of that on a tuesday night? one pan dinners for the win!
i think that’s all you need to know. delicious. one pan. easy. aaaaand, go!
- 1/2 cup (60 g. / 2 1/8 oz.) all purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon dried rosemary
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon dried sage
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 pound (454 g. / 16 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
- 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- 3 cups peeled, diced butternut squash (this is about ½ of a small squash, or 330 g. / 11 ½ oz.) – cut the dice small, about ¾” (2 cm), so that they cook quickly
- 4 oz. (113 g. / 1 cup) mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup hard apple cider
- 1/2 cup apple cider, see notes
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- in a medium bowl, mix the flour and spices (rosemary through nutmeg). toss the chicken cubes in the spiced flour mixture to coat. set aside.
- in a large skillet set over medium heat, heat 2 teaspoons of the olive oil. add the squash, flip them around a little bit to coat them in oil, then cover the pan and let the squash cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. add the mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes, uncovered. by this time, the mushrooms should be browned and the squash should be showing signs of softening (but doesn’t need to be softened all of the way yet). remove the squash and mushrooms from the pan.
- add the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan. once hot, add the flour and spice coated chicken cubes, shaking off excess flour before adding the chicken pieces to the pan. sauté on one side for about 2 minutes, until a golden brown crust forms, then flip the chicken pieces over and repeat on the other side. remove the chicken from the pan (it’s ok that it’s not fully cooked yet).
- add the cider, hard cider, and mustard to the skillet and whisk to combine, making sure to scrape up any browned bits of fond from the bottom of the pan. simmer for 5 minutes to reduce the sauce by about 1/3.
- add the chicken, squash, and mushrooms back to the skillet with the cider mixture. stir to coat then simmer, stirring occasionally, for 7 – 8 minutes (until the chicken pieces are cooked to 165° F).
- serve warm. this dish reheats nicely (you may need to add a bit more cider or water if the sauce gets too thick).
a friend who lives in california was recently visiting and mentioned that she can’t get traditional new england apple cider in california. i didn’t realize this was a thing. the kind of apple cider i’m talking about here is the murky brown kind sold in refrigerated cases this time of year (it’s not pasteurized). this cider vs. juice article may help. if you live outside of new england, cross your fingers and check the refrigerated cases in the produce section of your grocery store. in a pinch, you could probably substitute in apple juice (ideally one labeled “unfiltered”).
inspired by the cider braised chicken with spiced butternut on how sweet it is.