Doctor's orders: An apple a day is a must. And these amazing meals have the tart-sweet fruit written all over them. Here are ways to stud your favorite savory fall dinners with apples, including fabulous cider-brined pork chops, apple-bacon mac and cheese, and creamy soup.
6 - cups water
1/2 - cup pure maple syrup
6 - tablespoons kosher salt
1/4 - cup packed brown sugar
1/4 - cup whole grain mustard
2 - cups crushed ice
6 - chicken breast halves with bone (8 to 10 ounces each), skinless
2/3 - cup dry white wine
1/4 - cup brandy
1/4 - cup sugar
1 - cinnamon stick
3 - whole cloves
1 - teaspoon vanilla
3/4 - cup dried apricots, snipped
2 - Braeburn apples, cored and sliced
2 - tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Ground black pepper
1/2 - cup chopped walnuts, toasted
For brine, in a Dutch oven combine 2 cups of the water, the maple syrup, kosher salt, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and mustard. Cook and stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Stir in the remaining 4 cups water and the ice. Place chicken in a very large resealable plastic bag set in a deep bowl. Gradually pour syrup mixture over chicken in bag. Seal bag; turn to coat chicken. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 3 to 24 hours, turning bag once or twice.
Drain chicken, discarding brine. For a charcoal grill, arrange medium-hot coals around a drip pan. Test for medium heat above pan. Place chicken breasts, bone sides up, on grill rack over drip pan. Cover and grill for 45 to 55 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink (170 degrees F), turning once halfway through grilling. (For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Adjust for indirect cooking. Grill as above.)
For the compote, in a medium saucepan combine wine, brandy, sugar, cinnamon stick, cloves, vanilla, and apricots. Cook and stir over medium heat just until boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 to 12 minutes or until liquid is slightly syrupy and apricots are softened. Remove from heat; stir in apples and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve compote warm or at room temperature with chicken. Sprinkle chicken and compote with walnuts.
Nutrition Facts (Maple-Brined Chicken Breasts with Apple Relish)
Per serving: 542 kcal cal., 23 g fat (5 g sat. fat, 8 g polyunsaturated fat, 8 g monounsatured fat), 116 mg chol., 970 mg sodium, 33 g carb., 3 g fiber, 27 g sugar, 40 g pro. Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet