Thursday, January 17, 2013

Spicy Apple-Glazed Chick 'n' Blue Cheese Grits

Chicken and grits are a classic Southern combination, and one that still gets a place in the vegan kitchen thanks to Gardein. This version goes haute cuisine with an apple butter glaze on the chicken, and vegan blue cheese in the grits.

For the Blue Cheese Grits:
  • 28 ounces vegan chicken broth (such as Imagine)
  • 3/4 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits
  • 1 cup crumbled vegan blue cheese (such as Veg Cuisine)
  • 1/3 cup lite vegan sour cream (such as We Can't Say It's Sour Cream)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1. Bring the broth to a boil in a saucepan and gradually add the grits, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 5 to 12 minutes, until thick, stirring occasionally. 

2. Remove from heat and stir in the blue cheese, sour cream, nutmeg, and black pepper.

Note: The grits mixture will continue to thicken as it cools.

Nutrition Info:
4 servings (1 cup), Calories 182

Stop reading here if only the grits intrigue you, but for the chicken, read on.

  • 4 Gardein Tuscan chicken breasts (without sauce)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup apple butter*
  • 1/4 cup spicy brown mustard**
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper 
  • 1 recipe Blue Cheese Grits
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
1. Place the chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and flatten slightly with a meat mallet.  Don't pound too hard, or you risk the Gardein pulling apart; you just want to make sure that each piece is of even thickness, as shown in the photo below (the piece on the left has been flattened).  Place the chicken in a metal baking pan coated with cooking spray.

2. Combine the apple butter, mustard, salt, ground red pepper, and black pepper.

3. Brush the apple butter mixture evenly over the chicken, and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Cut the chicken into 1/2-inch thick slices.

4. Spoon 1 cup grits onto each of 4 plates, and top evenly with the chicken and green onions.

*Apple butter is one of those items - like coconut milk - that sounds as though it shouldn't be vegan, but is. The "butter" is from mashed apples, and high-quality versions shouldn't contain any other ingredients, including sugar.

**Be careful when purchasing spicy brown mustard: A few brands, including French's and Grey Poupon, list "natural flavors" in the ingredients.  Rumor on the internet has it this flavor may be beef- or chicken-derived. Although there's no way to be sure without contacting the company, a few other brands have an all-vegan ingredient list, including Gulden and Kosciusko, so opt for those.

Nutrition Info:
4 servings (1 cup grits, 1 chicken breast, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons green onions), Calories 371 

Tasting Notes:
I'll start with the grits, because those were awesome. Of course, I would probably find vegan ice cream topped with Veg Cuisine's soy bleu to be awesome, because as far as I'm concerned, you can't go wrong with this vegan cheese.  The grits are savory and creamy, and will warm you from the inside-out on a cold winter night.  The glaze on the chicken lives up to its name: spicy.  A little too much so for me, with the mustard and ground red pepper drowning out that lovely apple butter.  Next time, I would use twice as much apple butter, and half as much mustard and red pepper.  The grits did a great job of taming the fieriness of the glaze, but also drowned out the complexity of the flavors. Instead, I recommend making these grits for dinner one night, and the chicken another night, since together they aren't as good as apart.  I'd also leave off the green onions next time. A "5" for the grits, a lower rating for the combined effect.

Update: As an interesting note, the flavors of the grits and apple-glazed chicken pair better if you don't serve the dish immediately. Let stand for about 20 minutes before serving or enjoy leftovers for lunch.


Vegan extra:
In the same way this recipe warms you up from the inside on a cold winter night, make sure to give dry, cracked winter skin warming TLC on the outside this winter. I recently discovered a handy trick, for softening skin that even lotion can't seem to handle. Rub a medicated chest rub onto scaly heels and soles just before bed, slip on a pair of cotton socks, and remove in the morning.

This trick is made possible thanks to Gaia Kids 100% vegan warming chest rub.

1 comment:

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