Bev’s apricot chicken
Mum was a good solid home cook. As she and Dad had travelled Europe for 6 months in a campervan for their honeymoon instead of having a big wedding (revolutionary in 1959), she was exposed to a wider variety of food than was available in 1950s Australia which meant she was a bit more adventurous than others at the time. She served this dish to the family in the 60s and 70s – I have no idea where the recipe came from but we all loved it. I know many people have a philosophical objection to fruit in savory dishes but I don’t. If you grow up in Australia where fruit is locally grown, plentiful, and cheap, fruit gets put into a wider range of food than it does in the UK. (If you have never had mango with lobster, you have not lived)
If you want to do a vegetarian version, I think chickpeas might be a good substitute for the chicken but do whatever you think is best.
4 chicken breasts or 8 chicken thighs
2 medium onions
1 large can of apricot halves in juice
1 teaspoon of ground ginger or as much fresh grated ginger as you like
1 lt of chicken or veg stock
500mls of apricot nectar or 2-3 tbs of apricot jam
Fresh coriander or parsley to garnish
Freshly cracked black pepper
Almond slivers (optional)
- Chop onions roughly and soften them in a frying pan in the olive oil. Keep the heat fairly low as you want to soften the onions, not brown them. Once the onions are really soft, set them aside.
- Brown the chicken in the pan in some oil. You can use a mix of oil and butter if you wish.
- Put the chicken and onions into an ovenproof dish. Add the apricot halves with the juice, the stock, apricot nectar (or jam) and the ginger. The ginger is the ingredient that makes this dish sing. If you like it as much as I do, do not skimp on it.
- Cover the dish and put it into a medium oven (180C/160C fan) for about 45-55 minutes. It is ready when the apricots are really soft and starting to fall apart and the chicken is cooked through.
- I thicken the liquid with a bit of flour just before serving because I like a thicker sauce. Entirely up to you.
- Serve with a sprinkling of fresh coriander or parsley, freshly cracked black pepper and slivers of almonds if you want some further texture. I serve it with rice but couscous, lentils, or even potatoes would work. Use whatever you want.
- If you really like heat in your food, you can add some really finely chopped chili to the mix before you put everything in the oven.