Wednesday, December 11, 2002

It's sweet to have savory snacks on hand

Here's How

By Marilyn Harris
Enquirer contributor

So much holiday entertaining tends to be impromptu with relatives, friends and neighbors stopping by, often unannounced. Of course you want to have holiday treats on hand so you can offer hospitality in the form of food and drink.

Along with the traditional holiday sweets, I like to have savory snacks that can be pulled out at a moment's notice to serve at cocktail hour.

A delicious homemade spread or pate to serve on crackers or toast is a staple in my kitchen. Many of them can be kept for several days in the refrigerator, but today's recipe is a favorite because it is quick and easy to whip together in the food processor. So allow me to offer you one more recipe that makes use of boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

Poaching the delicate white meat of chicken in a stock infused with an interesting blend of flavors and taking care to cook just to the proper doneness makes a perfect base for this cocktail spread. Canned chicken broth or a reconstituted reduced sodium stock base are fine for making this poaching stock.

Once the chicken is poached, cool it and cut it into pieces. When the apples are peeled and cut up and the scallions washed and sliced, it is only a matter of tossing everything into the food processor to puree into a mixture with an interesting combination of sweet, tart and spicy flavors.

After a day or two in the refrigerator, those flavors fuse to make an even tastier treat. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator and this savory chicken-curry spread will stay fresh and flavorful for a week. Garnish with the almonds and parsley just before serving.

Curried Chicken Spread with Apples and Almonds

2 whole chicken breasts, boned and skinned

2 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

2 sprigs parsley

1 bay leaf

1 onion, sliced

2 green onions, cut into pieces

1/2 yellow delicious apple, peeled and cubed

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

3 ounces cream cheese

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, or to taste

Chopped parsley

Toasted sliced almonds

Trim chicken breasts and place between sheets of plastic wrap. Pound to flatten to an even thickness. In a skillet, heat together stock, wine, peppercorns, parsley, bay leaf and onion for 5 minutes. Add the chicken, cover with parchment paper and poach about 10 minutes, or until just cooked through. Do not overcook. Cool in the poaching liquid. Remove and cut into pieces.

Chop the green onions coarsely in the processor. Add the chicken and apple. Turn on and off until mixture is chopped. Add butter, cream cheese, lemon juice, salt, curry powder and Tabasco. Process until smooth. Place in a crock or serving bowl. Top with chopped parsley and toasted sliced almonds to serve. Serve with thinly sliced bread rounds or Melba toast for spreading.

Contact Marilyn Harris by mail: c/o Cincinnati Enquirer, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati 45202; e-mail:

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