A few weeks ago I took a trip to southern Indiana for the National Maple Syrup Festival. I was asked to judge a recipe contest for savory dishes that used maple syrup as a key ingredient and I saw the work of many local craftsmen at the festival. You can get a taste of the event by watching the video of my trip here. You can also get a taste of some of the dishes I sampled by checking out my take on a maple cheesecake and a breaded chicken with a tart cherry and maple sauce.
12 Graham Crackers
6 tbl Butter, melted
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1 1/2 cu Pure Maple Syrup
3/4 cu Whipping Cream
2 tbl Unsalted Butter
32 oz Cream Cheese, room temperature
4 lg Eggs, room temperature
1/4 cu Granulated Sugar
1/2 cu Light Brown Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
Tea Kettle of Boiling Water
Place graham crackers in a food processor and process until reduced to crumbs. Pour crumbs into the bottom of your spring form pan and add butter and cinnamon. Combine with your hands and then flatten on the bottom of the pan, forming an even, nicely packed layer. Set aside.
Pour maple syrup into a large deep saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add butter and cream and stir to combine. Pour caramel mixture into a container and allow to cool.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place cream cheese in mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Add sugars and continue to beat until well combined and silky. Mix in 3/4 cup of the caramel mixture. Add eggs, one at time, until well incorporated. Add vanilla extract and mix at medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour mixture over graham cracker crust and tap the springform pan a few times to remove any bubbles.
Tear off a piece of aluminum foil long enough to wrap around the sprinfgorm pan and fold in half lengthwise. Wrap the aluminum around the pan and crimp the ends together to form the collar. Tear another square piece of aluminum foil and place it loosely over the top of your foil collar. Place the springform pan on the jellyroll pan and set it on the middle rack of your oven. Pour boiling water into the pan up to its edge. Close the oven door and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 275 degrees and bake for an additional 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake rest in the oven for an additional hour. Remove from the oven and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight before serving.
To serve, slice the cheesecake into serving sizes. Spoon a small amount of the remaining sauce on individual plates and top with cheesecake.
2 tbl Finely Minced Shallots
2 tbl Olive Oil
1 1/2 tsp Fresh Sage, finely minced
2 tbl All Purpose Flour
1 cu Just Tart Cherry Juice
2 tbl Balsamic Vinegar
3/4 cu Pure Maple Syrup
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1 cu Frozen Dark Sweet Cherries, sliced in half
4 Chicken Breasts, (about 8oz each in this recipe)
1/2 cu All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1 lg Egg
1/4 cu Maple Syrup
1/4 cu Milk
3/4 cu Bread Crumbs
1 tsp Fresh Sage, finely minced
1/3 cu Pistachio Nuts
Place shallots and olive oil in a medium pan over medium low heat. Saute the shallots until tender, about 5 minutes, being careful not to burn them. Raise the heat to medium high and add flour. Whisk for 2 minutes. Whisk in cherry juice, followed by balsamic vinegar. Bring to a boil and add maple syrup, lemon juice and cherries. Boil sauce for 2 minutes and then reduce heat to keep warm.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine salt and pepper with the flour in a large flat bottom container. Whisk together, egg, maple syrup and milk in another container. Finally combine graham crumbs and sage in another container.
Rinse chicken breasts. Shake off excess water and coat each with flour. Dip the floured chicken in the maple egg mixture to coat and then dip it into the bread crumbs and coat on all sides.
Place chicken on a baking sheet lined with a baking mat or aluminum foil sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until internal temperature of the thickest part of the breast just reaches 170 degrees F (you don't want to overcook it). Remove from oven and let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving. Place breasts on individual serving plates. Spoon warm cherry sauce over them and sprinkle pistachio nuts on top. Serve with additional sauce in a bowl to pass.