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Maple-Black Pepper Chicken and Camembert Melt with Matchstick Fries

Chef Michael Voltaggio created this recipe for the ultimate chicken and cheese sandwich. “We all loved melted cheese sandwiches,” he says. “When you incorporate premium ingredients like Camembert, it elevates a simple chicken sandwich to something special.” Mostarda, an Italian condiment that combines fruit with mustard and spices, adds a lively kick.

Ingredients:

For the chicken:

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs. peppercorns
  • 10 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, about 14 oz. total

For the maple-pepper seasoning:

  • 1 tsp. maple flakes
  • 1 tsp. Maldon sea salt
  • 1 tsp. coarsely ground pepper

For the mostarda:

  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
  • 2 oz. dried apricots, diced
  • 2 oz. golden raisins
  • 1 1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • Zest and juice of 1/4 orange
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 2 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup whole-grain mustard
  •   8 slices country-style sourdough bread, cut 1/2 inch thick on the bias
  • 8 oz. Camembert cheese, cut lengthwise into slices 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Matchstick fries for serving (see related recipe at left)

Directions:

To prepare the brine, in a saucepan over high heat, combine the water, apple cider, maple syrup, kosher salt and peppercorns and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Add the thyme sprigs and steep for 10 minutes, then remove the thyme and discard. Let the brine cool to lukewarm, then refrigerate until cold. Transfer the brine to a large bowl, add the chicken and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.

To prepare the maple-pepper seasoning, in a small bowl, combine the maple flakes, Maldon sea salt and pepper. Set aside.

To prepare the mostarda, heat a saucepan over medium heat. Add the apple, apricots and raisins and sauté until the apple is softened, about 4 minutes. Add the vinegar, orange zest, orange juice, cinnamon stick and brown sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches a chutney-like consistency, about 2 minutes. Add the salt and fold in the mustard. Let cool completely. Remove the cinnamon stick and discard.

Preheat an electric panini press on the “sear” setting. Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Place the chicken on the preheated panini press, close the lid and cook until the chicken is cooked through, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle each piece of chicken with 1/2 tsp. maple-pepper seasoning. Wipe off the panini press with paper towels and adjust the press to the “panini” setting.

Place the bread slices on a baking sheet. Spread 1/4 cup mostarda on each of 4 slices. Top each with the cheese, dividing evenly, and 1 piece of chicken. Top each sandwich with one of the remaining bread slices.

Place 2 of the sandwiches on the panini press, close the lid and cook until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes. Transfer the sandwiches to a cutting board. Repeat to cook the remaining sandwiches.

In a bowl, toss the arugula with the olive oil and 1/2 tsp. maple-pepper seasoning. Open the sandwiches and arrange the arugula on the chicken. Close the sandwiches, cut them in half and serve immediately with matchstick fries. Serves 4.

Recipe by Chef Michael Voltaggio.