This cider-glazed chicken with roasted cauliflower rice is an easy but gourmet paleo meal that comes together quickly. It’s also Whole30-compliant!
I’ve had a jug of local cider in the fridge since Christmas, and have been wanting to reduce it into some kind of sauce for a savory dish. The idea got stuck in my head right away, so even though I love to have a glass of cider on its own, I’ve pretty much just been saving it, biding my time until a great idea for something savory with cider sauce came along.
Serendipitously, I found the idea as soon as I started exploring Erin’s blog, The Spiffy Cookie, which was my assignment for this month’s Secret Recipe Club reveal. Erin has an index of all her gluten-free recipes, which made it really easy to find good candidates for me to adapt into paleo-friendly dishes. (I had to avert my eyes from all of her ridiculously good-looking desserts, but will be back to browse those once my Whole30 is over!) Before the gluten-free recipes page had even fully loaded, Erin’s cider-glazed chicken with browned-butter pecan rice caught my eye.
It was a perfect fit! I was able to follow the recipe for the cider-glazed chicken pretty much exactly, and finally got to make that cider sauce I’d been dreaming about. It exceeded my expectations–it’s pretty much just cider reduced with the browned bits from cooking the chicken and a touch of mustard, which helps the glaze walk the line between sweet and savory just perfectly.
I made a few more changes to the rice recipe. When I’m not doing a Whole30 I do eat white rice, but this month it’s out for me. I used cauliflower rice instead. Ghee is pretty much browned butter with the browned bits strained out, so that was an easy swap. I added Brussels sprouts because I thought their flavor would pair nicely with the toasty pecans, and I wanted to add a green veggie to the mix. I also roasted the cauliflower rice, which is a new-to-me technique that I will definitely be using from now on. The texture and flavor are both superior to cauliflower rice cooked on the stovetop, and as a bonus, it’s even easier to make. You basically throw everything onto a baking sheet (see photo below), mix it up, and roast it. It smells amazing and tastes even better!
I’ll definitely be making this cider-glazed chicken with roasted cauliflower rice again! Each of the individual recipes could also be mixed and matched with other dishes. The cider-glazed chicken would also be delicious with creamy rutabaga, and the roasted cauliflower rice with Brussels sprouts and pecans would be great with any kind of meat or fish.
It was so much fun exploring Erin’s blog and learning more about her. In addition to being a prolific food blogger, she also has a PhD in molecular genetics, works as a researcher, and has published articles in her field. How cool is that? Whether it’s to check out her gluten-free recipes or all of her scrumptious desserts, I hope you have a chance to visit her site!
Also, check out all the other Secret Recipe Club posts in the linkup below the recipe.
- ½ pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced*
- Florets from 1 small head cauliflower, pulsed into rice-sized pieces in a food processor*
- ¾ cup pecan halves, chopped*
- ¼-1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons melted ghee or brown butter, divided
- 1 tablespoon ghee or unsalted butter
- 1¼ pounds thinly sliced boneless, skinless chicken breasts**
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1¼ cups apple cider
- 1 teaspoon tapioca flour (optional)
- 2 teaspoons stone-ground mustard (I used Full Circle Organic Gluten Free Stone Ground Mustard—check ingredients carefully for Whole30 because some brands contains wine)
- Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, for garnish (optional)
- To make the roasted cauliflower rice, preheat the oven to 425°F and line a large baking sheet (or two smaller ones) with foil. Put all the ingredients on the baking sheet, and then toss with your hands or stir with a spatula to mix well. Spread the ingredients out into an even layer.
- Roast for 25 minutes, removing the pan from the oven and tossing once with a spatula about halfway through the roasting time to ensure even browning.
- While the cauliflower rice is roasting, make the cider-glazed chicken. Heat a very large stainless steel or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. If you don’t have one big enough to fit all the chicken in a single layer with a bit of space between them, use two pans or cook the chicken in batches. Pat the chicken dry and sprinkle both sides with the salt and pepper.
- Melt the ghee in the pan and then add the chicken. Let the chicken cook undisturbed for about 3 minutes, until the pieces are nicely browned on the bottom and release from the pan easily when you slide a spatula underneath. Flip the chicken over and cook for about 3 minutes on the second side, or until just cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a plate to rest.
- Pour the cider into the pan and add the mustard, scraping with a spatula to dislodge the flavorful browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Let the cider bubble away for about 5 minutes, until somewhat thickened and darkened in color.
- If you’d like to thicken the glaze a little more, scoop out about a tablespoon of it into a small heatproof bowl. Add the tapioca flour to the bowl and stir thoroughly to form a slurry. Add the slurry to the pan and whisk constantly until it’s incorporated and the sauce is thickened, about 1 minute.
- Serve the chicken hot, with the glaze drizzled on top and the roasted cauliflower rice on the side, garnished with parsley or cilantro if desired.
**I like to buy thinly-sliced chicken breasts at the store when I can find them because it's so easy, but you can also cut regular chicken breasts in half horizontally yourself with a very sharp knife or pound them flat between two sheets of parchment paper with a mallet or heavy skillet.
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