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Published December 18, 2011, 12:00 AM

Savvy Consumer: Five ideas for holiday maple syrup

And perfect butter to pair with it
Some things are best when paired: Hot cocoa and whipped cream, salt and pepper, pancakes and maple syrup. But the sticky sweetness of syrup isn’t just for breakfast fare. These tried-and-tested recipes from the Good Housekeeping Research Institute prove that maple syrup can work its magic on potatoes, poultry and even salmon.

Some things are best when paired: Hot cocoa and whipped cream, salt and pepper, pancakes and maple syrup. But the sticky sweetness of syrup isn’t just for breakfast fare. These tried-and-tested recipes from the Good Housekeeping Research Institute prove that maple syrup can work its magic on potatoes, poultry and even salmon.

1. Glazed Black-Pepper Bacon: This side can accompany a special weekend brunch for your family. To make, preheat oven to 400 F. Arrange eight slices of thick-cut bacon on a rack fitted into a jelly-roll pan. Brush the slices with 3 tablespoons syrup. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until crisp.

2. Sticky Glazed Salmon: This healthful dinner is easy enough to make during a busy weeknight. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup syrup, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 2 teaspoons rice-wine vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger. Sprinkle four pieces (4 ounces each) of skinless salmon fillet with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place in a 12-inch nonstick skillet; brush with some glaze. Cook on medium 9-10 minutes, or just until opaque throughout, generously brushing often and turning over once. Serves 4.

3. Maple Pudding: This cool dessert is winter festive and delicious. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup whole milk and 1/3 cup cornstarch until smooth. In three-quart saucepan, heat 1 1/2 cups whole milk, 3/4 cup syrup, 1 tablespoon butter, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to boiling on high, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to simmer. Whisk in cornstarch mixture; cook two minutes, whisking constantly. Transfer to six parfait glasses. Cover and refrigerate until cold. Serves six.

4. Maple Mustard Chicken: Does your chicken dinner need a makeover? Mix it up with this sure-to-please maple syrup-flavored dish. In a bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon of syrup, 1 tablespoon grainy mustard and 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Add 1 pound chicken tenders, turning to coat. On a plate, coat chicken with 1/3 cup of Italian-style breadcrumbs, pressing so they adhere. In a 12-inch skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of oil on medium; add chicken. Cook seven minutes or until no longer pink in center (165 F), turning over once. In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and 2 tablespoons grainy mustard. Serve with the chicken. Serves four.

5. Spicy Sweet Potatoes: These better-for-you fries are a great choice for a game-day snack. In a large bowl, toss two pounds of sweet potatoes, each cut into eight wedges, with 1/4 cup syrup, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Arrange on a foil-lined jelly-roll pan. Bake at 425 F for 25 to 30 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, puree 1/4 cup syrup, one chipotle chile in adobo and a pinch of salt in a blender.

Drizzle over potatoes just before serving.

Serves four.

Taste test: Butter

And speaking of maple syrup, the Good Housekeeping Research Institute has the perfect butter to pair with it.

Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery Cultured Butter with Sea Salt Crystals ($4 for 4 ounces): Taste testers loved its complex, tangy flavor. The soft crunch of the grains of salt studded throughout also was a pleasant surprise.

Plugra ($3 for 8 ounces): This ultra-rich and creamy butter has a good balance of salty and sweet, and has been described as both mellow and flavorful.


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Distributed by King Features Syndicate

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