Baked Apricot Chicken Recipe
Tart apricots are the base for the savory sauce this chicken bakes in. Blanch the apricots, remove their skins, and crush them into chunks. Sauté shallots in butter, deglaze with fruity, floral Lillet Blanc, and add the apricots and just enough sugar and OJ to sweeten the sauce. Pour it over seasoned bone-in chicken pieces and bake until the chicken is browned and the sauce is bubbling. Serve with wild rice or a rice pilaf to soak up all the sauce.
Game plan: The apricot sauce can be made a day ahead, cooled, and refrigerated in a container with a tightfitting lid.
For the sauce:
- 2 pounds apricots
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 medium shallots, small dice (about 1 cup)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup Lillet Blanc
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from about 2 medium oranges)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
For the chicken:
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, drumsticks, or breasts, or a combination of all three
- Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile place a colander in the sink and cut an “X” in the bottom of each apricot. Prepare an ice water bath by filling a large bowl halfway with ice and water; set aside.
- When the water boils, add the apricots and let them simmer until the skins just begin to loosen and the fruit just starts to soften, about 3 to 4 minutes. Immediately drain the apricots in the colander and transfer them to the ice water bath. Reserve the large saucepan.
- Holding 1 apricot over a medium bowl to catch any juices, use a paring knife to scrape away the skin and discard it. Using your hands, remove and discard the pit, crush the apricot into pieces about the size of grapes, and place in the bowl. Repeat with the remaining apricots and set the bowl aside.
- Melt the butter in the reserved saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the Lillet and cook until the alcohol smell has burned off, about 2 minutes. Add the crushed apricots and their juices, orange juice, and sugar, increase the heat to high, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has slightly reduced and thickened, about 30 minutes.
For the chicken:
- Meanwhile, heat the oven to 475°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
- When the oven is ready, place the chicken in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish and season generously with salt and pepper, turning the pieces to coat all sides.
- Pour the finished sauce over the chicken and turn to coat the pieces. Arrange the chicken skin-side up in the dish. Bake until the chicken is browned on top and a meat thermometer registers 165°F (make sure it’s not touching the bone), about 40 to 45 minutes. Serve with the sauce on the side.