It is sugaring season again here. Last week on my commute I saw the first sapbuckets out - a real sign that spring is on its way. We'll probably go out for breakfast at one of the sugar houses next weekend. (We were planning to go this weekend, but just didn't manage to haul ourselves out of bed on time, what with the change in the clocks and a late night for all at a party on Saturday!)
Maple syrup is NOT just for pancakes though. At our local sugar house they sell jugs of syrup of course, but they sell other maple products too. You can buy maple candies, and maple cream. (Think creamed honey, but maple flavoured.) You can buy candy floss (cotton candy) made from maple sugar. They sell 'sugar-on-snow' too, which is a cooked down version of maple syrup poured over a tray of snow so that it cools to a consistency where you can pick it up with fingers or a fork and eat it like candy. You can even do this at home (unlike making maple syrup!) Traditionally it's followed by a pickle to kill the sweetness.
One of my favourite chicken recipes calls for honey, but I replaced it with maple syrup once because I had no honey and it was delicious. There are more recipes using maple syrup here, here and here.
PEPPERY CHICKENI posted about maple sugaring last year, here, here and here. If you're in the north-eastern United States and looking for information about sugar houses that you can visit, try these sites:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup sliced mushrooms
Marinade ingredients:1 tsp olive oilMix all the marinade ingredients and pour over the chicken. The honey or maple syrup is easier to measure if you pour it into the same spoon you used for the olive oil - the remaining film of oil on the spoon helps the sticky sweet stuff slide right off! Refrigerate for about an hour. It's definitely better if you marinate it, rather than just pouring the sauce over the chicken and cooking it right away - which of course I do on occasion when I haven't planned ahead! You can marinade it for longer than an hour and it doesn't seem to harm it.
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp honey or maple syrup (but not the fake maple syrup rubbish!)
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp allspice (didn't have any of this the first few times I made this recipe and it was still good)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper (I tend not to bother with this, preferring simply to add pepper to taste once the chicken is cooked.)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, and bake the chicken until cooked.
Slice the mushrooms thinly and add to the sauce surrounding the chicken for the last few minutes of cooking time. I've sometimes added sun-dried tomatoes to the sauce at the beginning of the cooking time too.
Serve with rice or couscous.