For sweetness and a wealth of benefits, apples make a great addition to savory dishes.
For some people, the idea of skillet chicken with Brussels sprouts and apples might trigger one reaction: “What are three things that don’t go together in the same dish?” But sometimes, the most unlikely food combinations can create some fantastic flavors. For instance, Coke wasn’t intended to be used with chicken, but baking chicken in cola yields excellent results. Dark chocolate and cheese sounds disgusting, but the flavors really work well together.
The same is true for chicken, Brussels sprouts and apples. Think of it a bit like Asian cooking, which is designed to get all five flavors in the same dish working in harmony. With bitter Brussels sprouts, sweet apples and the salty and umami flavors of a well-seasoned chicken breast, all you need is a bit of acid to finish off this dish.
What Kind of Chicken Works Best for This Dish?
A key to getting any chicken dish correct is to choose the appropriate cut of chicken to use. Because different cuts of chicken have different amounts of fat on them, they cook at different times, and trying to cook a chicken breast the same amount of time as a chicken thigh will yield poor results.
For this recipe, you’ll want to use chicken thighs. Thighs are dark meat and have more flavor than breasts, which helps to give the chicken a flavor profile that it won’t get simply from cooking alongside the Brussels sprouts and apples. Chicken thighs also cook slower than chicken breasts, so you won’t overcook them when you put them with a vegetable that needs some extra time to cook.
Why Include Brussels Sprouts?
Besides their flavors, Brussels sprouts are popular because they pack a huge nutritional punch, making them an ideal accompaniment to complete a dish. Brussels sprouts are known as cruciferous vegetables, putting them in the same family as broccoli, kale and cauliflower and giving them several of the same benefits.
If you’re in need of Vitamin K and Vitamin C, Brussels sprouts are the perfect choice, as they’re packed with both vitamins and provide the full daily allowance of Vitamin K. They’re also full of antioxidants and fiber, the former of which helps your body prevent cancer while the latter relieves constipation.
What Apples Should I Use?
That depends on how sweet you want your dish. When you’re trying to use apples with savory flavors, you don’t want to go too sweet or too tart with your apple selection. If you choose a Fuji apple, for example, you’ll overwhelm the savory flavors of your dish, while a Granny Smith won’t offer much sweetness. Choose a middle-of-the-road apple, such as McIntosh, and you’ll get the right mix of flavors.
How Do I Make Skillet Chicken with Brussels Sprouts and Apples?
To make this dish, you’ll want to make sure you’ve seasoned the chicken and get a good sear on it before you add anything else. Salt and pepper, as well as any herbs you particularly like, will help you bring out the chicken’s flavor.
From there, you’ll add your vegetables, with a bit of onion included. Onion provides the last bit of the flavor profile, and if you cook until the Brussels sprouts wilt, you’ll have all five flavors in place. Add a bit of vinegar and brown sugar and you’re ready for dinner.
Finding new flavor combinations is one of the best parts of being a home cook. Chicken and apples might not seem to fit together, especially when Brussels sprouts get involved, but if you know what you’re doing, the taste will come together beautifully and please every palate.