March/April 2012

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food | THE GUIDE 'Drink of the Gods' A sampling of New England mead producers … Contact individual vendors or visit their Web sites for information about availability. ARTESANO, Groton, VT. 802-584-9000; artesanomead.com At its most basic, mead consists of fermented honey and water—but few of the new makers are content to leave it at that; these inveterate tinkerers add fruits, spices, and seasonings to give the drink a range of f lavors. Bennett uses Maine raspberries in his "Popp Road Raspberry Wine"; Fairbrother's best seller is "Desire," with blueberries, black cherries, and black currants. Mead may be sweet, but some ver- sions are very dry, inducing in the taster a kind of cognitive dissonance. (Imag- ine, if you can, the flavor of honey— the aromatic f loral and fruit notes— without the sweetness.) Each mead has its own flavor, but the best ones have an underlying character not un like that of fine white wine. Fairbrother adds that many first-time tasters are surprised, in a good way: "They say, 'Whoa … where has this been all my life?'" MOROCCAN-SPICED CHICKEN WITH MEAD, APRICOTS & ALMONDS TOTAL TIME: ABOUT 11 2 HOURS; HANDS-ON TIME: ABOUT 1 2 HOUR Mead is a versatile cooking ingredient, either as the base of a braising liquid (pork, duck, and chicken are natural partners) or as a poaching liquid for salmon or fruits such as pears and apples. Here, we pair a semisweet mead with chicken thighs, apricots, and warm spices for a cozy early-spring meal. Note: Unflavored semisweet mead is best for this recipe. If you have only dry mead on hand, add a tablespoon of honey to the sauce. 2 tablespoons olive oil 3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs (9 to 11 pieces, depending on size) 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, divided 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided 4 ounces (about 11 4 cups) dried apricots, halved MARCH | APRIL 2012 BARTLETT WINERY, Gouldsboro, ME. 207-546-2408; bartlettwinery.com FIDDLER'S REACH, Bath, ME. fiddlersreach.com GREEN RIVER AMBROSIA, Greenfield, MA. greenriverambrosia.com HONEYMAKER/MAINE MEAD WORKS, Portland, ME. 207-773-6323; mainemeadworks.com ISAAKS OF SALEM, Beverly, MA. 401-290-8256; isaaksofsalem.com MOONLIGHT MEADERY, Londonderry, NH. 603-216-2162; moonlightmeadery.com SHALOM ORCHARD ORGANIC FARM & WINERY, Franklin, ME. 207-565-2312; shalomorchard.com 1 2 teaspoon pepper; then add to pan and cook, turn- ing once, until well browned on both sides, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a 9x13- inch baking dish. Scatter apricots over and around chicken, tucking some in underneath, and set aside. Pour off all but about 3 tablespoons fat from the skillet. Add onion and cook over medium-low heat until softened, about 10 min- utes. Add garlic and ginger; cook, stirring, another min- ute. Then add spices and remaining salt and pepper; stir another minute until mixture is fragrant (spices burn easily, so watch care- fully). Pour mead into the skil let, increase heat 1 large onion, chopped 3 large garlic cloves, minced 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (or 1 dried ginger) 2 teaspoon 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 2 teaspoon ground turmeric 1 2 teaspoon ground cumin 11 2 cups semisweet mead (see "Note," left) 1 2 cup slivered almonds 1 2 cup chopped cilantro Preheat oven to 350°. In a large (at least 14-inch), heavy skillet, warm oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken on both sides with 1 teaspoon salt and to medium-high, and simmer, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until sauce thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Pour the contents of the skillet over chicken and apricots. Cover pan tightly with foil and bake in preheated oven until chicken is cooked through, about 55 to 60 minutes. Remove foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking time. While chicken cooks, toast almonds in a dry, heavy skillet over medium-low heat, stirring continously, until light golden brown. Before serving, sprinkle chicken with almonds and cilantro. Serve with rice or couscous. Yield: 4 to 6 servings | 69 / / / / / / / / / /

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