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)
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 1/2 teaspoon pepper; then add to pan and cook, turning 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 minutes. Add garlic and ginger; cook, stirring, another minute. Then add spices and remaining salt and pepper; stir another minute until mixture is fragrant (spices burn easily, so watch carefully). Pour mead into the skillet, increase heat 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.