Combining sweet and savoury is a great way to kick your recipe up a notch. This process of balancing two different flavour types is called flavour layering, and has become a popular culinary trend. Flavour layering is a great way to enhance and showcase subtle flavours that might have otherwise gone unnoticed. This is one of the many reasons that chicken and cranberries are such a perfect match.
In North America, cranberries are harvested in the fall which is why we tend to see them most during the holiday season. But frozen or dried cranberries are available all year round, as are canned sauces and jellies. You can also freeze fresh cranberries for up to a year. And they don’t even need to be defrosted before you use them! So why not make cranberries a regular part of your menu? From cozy fall meals to fresh summer dishes, cranberries can bring any recipe to life.
The benefits of cooking with cranberries extends beyond the magic of flavour layering. They are chock full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and offer a range of other health benefits, all of which have awarded cranberries the title of superfood. Raw cranberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, with just a half cup containing 10% of the daily recommended value. Cranberries also contain dietary fibre, calcium, potassium, zinc, and vitamin K. The vitamin E and cytokine proteins found in cranberries have anti-inflammatory properties which can reduce blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease. Cranberries are also known to lower the risk of urinary tract infections. Any way you look at it, cranberries are nothing but good for you!
There are many ways to make use of cranberries in the kitchen. Due to their tart nature, fresh cranberries are usually cooked down and sweetened before added to a recipe. They are naturally high in pectin, which makes them the perfect base for sauces or jellies, without requiring any additional thickener. Cranberry sauce pairs well with poultry dishes and makes an excellent sandwich or appetizer topping.
Dried cranberries are another great addition to your pantry. You can find dried cranberries at the grocery store, but be mindful of the added sugar content, which can vary between brands. It is also easy to dry your own at home using a dehydrator. This allows you to moderate the added sugar to your liking. If you don’t have a dehydrator, an oven works well, too. Simmer your cranberries on the stovetop with some sugar until they’ve all popped, then lay them out on a baking sheet lined first with paper towels and then parchment paper, and bake at 170º F for 7 to 8 hours.
Here are ten of our favourite recipes uniting chicken and cranberries. Keep these in mind around the holidays - goodness knows there are enough leftover cranberries to get creative!
- Cranberry Ginger Chicken Breasts Smoky cumin, zesty ginger, and the tart sweetness of cranberries create a deep flavour combination that brings these chicken breasts to a whole new level. A perfect addition to any fall menu.
- Herbed Cranberry Chicken Sauté This recipe calls for whole-berry cranberry sauce and stuffing seasoning. Simple, tasty, and a great way to use up some of those extra holiday ingredients.
- Chicken Breasts with Cranberries and Orange Cranberry and orange is a classic pairing and adds brightness and zest to these chicken breasts.
- Herb Roasted Chicken with Cranberry Barley Pilaf This homemade cranberry barley pilaf uses dried cranberries, almonds, and mushrooms and makes a hearty and flavourful side for a French-inspired herb roasted chicken.
- Cranberry and Chevre Stuffed Chicken Breasts These stuffed chicken breasts are an impressive dish and surprisingly easy to prepare. Creamy chevre is paired with tangy cranberries and sage to create a rich and flavourful meal sure to leave a lasting impression.
- Cranberry Glazed BBQ Chicken Drumsticks Barbecue can take any meal to the next level, and these 6-ingredient cranberry-glazed drumsticks are no exception. Cranberry sauce is made into a sweet and smoky glaze perfect for kids and adults alike.
- Chicken Tartlets with Cranberry Salsa These tasty little tartlets are all done up and ready to party. Tiny pie shells are filled with seasoned ground chicken and topped with a vibrant cranberry salsa.
- Chili Cranberry Fusion Meatballs These slow-cooker meatballs are another great party appetizer and can be prepared in a cinch. Fusing Mexican and Asian influences, they pack a mighty bite and will surely have your guests coming back for seconds.
- Cranberry and Chicken Borscht This delectable soup is chock full of flavour, nutrients, and beautiful colour. This spin on the traditional European borscht adds cranberries and brown sugar for a satisfying sweetness.
- Chicken and Cranberry Wild Rice Casserole This simple slow cooker meal packs in a lot of flavour, combining chicken with cranberries, white wine, tamari, Worcestershire sauce, and herbs. This casserole is a perfect pick me up on those cold autumn nights.