Spiced Chicken Breasts with Dried Apricots

I used to think I knew the wine rules for food pairing, but the trend really is now days that there are no rules.  I tend to play it pretty safe with wine pairings, but recently I've been trying to breakaway from the typical Chards/Cabs/Pinots, etc. that I typically buy for certain types of food.

Food & Wine is a magazine that's helping me to break out of that box. I love their magazine and I love that for every recipe they give a wine pairing - and sometimes a beer pairing.  It's helping me branch out to different types of wine and different wine regions.  All I can say is thank goodness we have a Total Wine to help me find these wines or similar ones!

This recipe comes from Food & Wine and I followed it to a T, except for using boneless, skinless chicken breasts in place of the skin on, bone-in chicken breasts the recipe called for (I don't like bone-in meats of any kind except lamb - though Hubby swears by bone-in steaks!).

This was excellent! The Husband & I both were big fans of it. The apricots balance the spice wonderfully and this dish is so perfect for the Fall!  Hubby actually suggested that next time I cut the chicken into small pieces and make it more of a one pot meal with rice. 

I served this with a spiced raisin and almond couscous, which I will share the recipe for that soon! It was a delicious meal for sure.

The magazine suggested this in regards to wine pairing for this recipe: "A red or white wine with low tannin and plenty of fruit flavor will match the sweet, tangy apricots. For a red, a pinot noir from Oregon would be a good choice; for a white, a pinot blanc from Alsace in France."

Spiced Chicken Breasts with Dried Apricots

3/4 cup dried apricots
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup sesame seeds
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 bone-in chicken breasts (about 2 1/4 pounds in all)
Heat the oven to 425°. In a small saucepan, combine the apricots and water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and then simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes. Set aside.

Toast the almonds and sesame seeds in the oven until just beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer 1/3 cup of the almonds and 1/4 cup of the sesame seeds to a blender; pulverize with the cumin, coriander, paprika, oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Put the mixture in a small bowl; stir in the oil and lemon juice to make a paste. Stir half of the paste into the apricots and water.

Put the chicken breasts in a small roasting pan, skin-side up, and coat with the remaining paste. Pour the apricot mixture around the chicken. Cook in the lower third of the oven until done, 20 to 25 minutes. If the chicken seems to be browning too quickly, cover the pan with aluminum foil the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Transfer the chicken to a plate. Spoon the fat from the pan. Serve the chicken topped with the apricots and any pan juices. Sprinkle the remaining almonds and sesame seeds over all.