Slip Slidin' Away...

Though I try to avoid dining ruts, more often than not it seems likes we have some sort of sandwich on Friday nights. In large part, I think this stems from the fact that sandwiches are usually quick to prepare, even if you aren't making them out of cold cuts or peanut butter and jelly. We usually do our grocery shopping on Friday nights after work, since the new weekly sales start on Thursdays, and I can typically carve out some time on Thursday night to make a grocery list. Coming home later than usual from the store, coupled with a week's worth of pent up exhaustion makes sandwiches an appealing dinner option.

Continuing in this week's theme of recipes that I selected based on Justin's taste preferences, I opted to try a sandwich recipe that combines two of his favorite flavors -- mustard and apricots. Apricots are Justin's favorite fruit, something he seems to have inherited from his family, where his grandma preserves her own apricot jam, uses it in her famous Sachertorte, and bakes them into a few of her other most popular desserts. Unsurprisingly, apricots are Justin's father's favorite as well, and the apricot rugelach I brought over to their house once was a big hit.

This recipe calls for grilling the fruit, and then turning the lightly-charred apricots into a tangy chutney with mustard (of which Justin is also exceedingly fond), and vinegar. Apricot is not the dominant flavor of the sauce, but it adds a nice body and sweetness to the mix. The chicken itself is nothing to write home about, as it is simply grilled with a quick pepper dry rub. I think you could easily replace the meat with store-bought rotisserie chicken and no one would know the difference.

When combined, however, the two components of the dish played together very nicely, creating a nice harmony of flavors. Plus, there is something about the petite size of sliders that just makes them more fun to eat than regular sandwiches, and who couldn't use a little more whimsy in their lives? Though it would make the recipe less simple, I feel like this dish could use another component, such as caramelized onions, or a bit of cheese, in order to bring more complexity to the table. Other than that, I could definitely see giving this recipe another try.

Grilled Chicken Sliders and Apricot Chutney
adapted from Cooking Light

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 apricots, halved and pitted
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves of garlic, minced
8 mini-sandwich buns

1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle chicken with pepper mixture. Place a large grill pan over medium-high heat; coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; cook 5 minutes on each side or until done. Cool slightly; shred meat.
2. Recoat pan with cooking spray. Place apricots, cut sides down, on pan; cook 6 minutes on medium-high heat or until tender and lightly browned, turning after 4 minutes. Place apricots and next 4 ingredients (through garlic) in a food processor; process until smooth.
3. Spread apricot chutney over cut side of each sandwich bun half. Place about 1/3 cup chicken on bottom bun; cover with top half of bun.

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