When I’m looking for a tasty meal that’s pretty easy to put together, this Apricot Baked Chicken comes to mind. With an abundance of seasonal fruit to choose from, I like to go straight for apricots. Truth be told, they make this chicken sing and the aromatic sauce they bake in gets topped with a surprise herb.
After a long day Sunday that started with us taking the dogs for a early morning hike in the lush green trails of Marian Bear park near our house, we hit up the yearly Del Mar Fair for some fun, eats and people watching this past weekend.
Who doesn’t love going to the fair when it comes to town? I pass on the carnival rides, just never seem too safe for me, or is that me dating myself? I used to love them, especially the ones that toss you about, but these days I’m all about checking out the wood work (since Dave used to make custom furniture), all the different gadgets, salesmen pitching their goods ( I always remember “no eye contact unless you want it” from shopping in Cairo) and new products.
The food though is pretty outrageous and not really too healthy (deep fried pickles and chocolate covered bacon anyone?), but the go-to, first thing on our list is always the roasted corn on the cob vendor. Fresh off the grill and slathered with a tab of butter and seasonings, I’m good to walk about and people watch.
Every where you turn there are different vendors with sausage sandwiches, bacon wrapped burgers, gigantic smoked BBQ turkey legs to nibble on.
Chili cheese curly fries were one I assisted in indulging in, but stayed away from those incredible cinnamon rolls and huge slabs of freshly made fudge.
Needless to say people watching is always a fun thing to do and I get such a kick out of it. It’s always interesting to catch conversations as you walk by, too. We had quite the good time. Dave picked up a new retractable “everything” ladder, we returned a streaming TV box that had a lifetime guarantee from last year that was bad, managed to salivate over some maple and chocolate fudge, restrain myself from purchasing a few things I didn’t need, but wanted, and in general enjoyed another fun adventure with my honey.
With all that walking around I was ready to head home after 4 hours and the meal I wanted needed to be simple and easy. This Apricot Baked Chicken is another go to for me.
With a simple salt, pepper and garlic powder rub on the chicken, I place them in a baking dish and pour a chicken stock and Marsala wine mixture over, toss in the chopped apricots (dried apricots will work as well, see recipe notes below) and bake. Easy peasy, right?
Slowly turning a golden brown as they bake, these chicken thighs have the bone in for more flavor. I keep the skin on as that allows the fats to render and bathe the chicken to stay moist.
After the Apricot Baked Chicken are done I sprinkle them with chopped basil. It’s my secret flavor weapon in this dish. To me, this makes it!
The aroma is off the hook delicious, the marsala enhanced sauce spooned over each golden brown chicken thigh spectacular and it’s pretty much served with some steamed barley or grain of choice. Simple, easy and packed with flavor.
Apricot Baked Chicken
- 4 chicken thighs 4 ounces each, bone in with skin
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 cup dry Marsala wine
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2 large apricots chopped
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup barley
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- Combine chicken stock, Marsala and honey in a small mixing bowl. Pit and dice fresh apricots (See Note 1). Set aside.
- Coat baking dish with cooking spray or a little oil. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Arrange chicken, skin side up on a baking dish. Add chopped apricots around chicken and pour stock mixture over all.
- Bake in 375°F oven for 30 minutes. Baste chicken with sauce and bake another 20 minutes until skin is crispy and apricots roasted. Chicken will be done when thermometer inserted near bone reads 165°F (See Note 2).
- While chicken is baking make the barley. Combine water, barley and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer 25 minutes or until tender. Drain if excess liquid.
- Serve chicken thighs with apricots, pan juices and basil (See Note 3) over steamed barley.
2. 4 (40z.) chicken thighs with bone in and skin on should bake at 375°F and be done in under 60 minutes, depending on size of chicken. Using bone in with skin allows for more flavor as it bakes and the skin's natural fats baste and keep the chicken moist. If using boneless and skinless I would bake for 20-25 minutes.
3. Sometimes I remove the bones and skin after baking and shred the chicken. Pour the sauce and apricots from the baking dish in a small saucepan over medium heat to reduce and thicken. This breaks down the apricots more and is great poured over the shredded chicken and barley. Mix and enjoy.