Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Abundance Of Citrus

Good evening everyone! If yesterday was a hint of spring, today is a bold, full brass section enhanced proclamation of its arrival. With temperatures in the great Des Moines area reaching 72 degrees, it’s easy to very quickly slip into a spring time state of mind. Nothing goes better with spring than bright and fresh flavors. Tonight’s dish delivers on that front in a big way.

I originally found this recipe on eatingwell.com and was intrigued by the flavor combination. However, the more I looked at this recipe the more my creative side became inspired to adapt it and make it something of my own. The result of my deviation was a delightfully citrus result. Check it out:

The Recipe: Chicken With Five Spice Citrus Glaze
(Originally called Clementine & Five Spice Chicken)

Original Recipe From: Eatingwell.com
(Heavily adapted to a new creation)

What You’ll Need:

6 Navel Oranges
¼ Teaspoon Chinese Five Spice Powder
2 Teaspoon Canola Oil
4 Large Bone-In Chicken Thighs (Skin removed, trimmed of fat)
1 Tablespoon Chopped Fresh Cilantro
¼ Teaspoon Sesame Oil

Five spice powder has been featured a few times on our blog now. It’s a unique blending of cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise & Sichuan pepper (the ingredients can vary slightly, but these are the most common components). This seasoning creates a beautiful blend of sweet and spicy – adding a layer of almost smoky depth to any dish. It’s not at all hard to find and priced competitively compared to other seasonings in your local grocery store’s spice aisle. (Essentially, we’re saying “DON’T SUBSTITUE!”)

First, zest your oranges using a micro-plane or box grater until you have about 1 teaspoon of orange zest. (Be sure to take only the outer orange layer, not the white ‘pith’ beneath. The pitch is very bitter and you don’t want to add it to your dish). I found that it took about 2 orange peels to achieve the desired quantity. Next, juice the oranges until you’ve obtained about ¾ to 1 cup’s worth of liquid. There will be some variation here as to the amount of liquid you can actually pull from the oranges, so you may need to increase or decrease the number of oranges used accordingly.

In a small bowl, combine the orange zest, juice and five spice powder. Use a whisk to vigorously incorporate all of the ingredients. You’ll know you’ve achieved the perfect mix of spice and liquid when the mixture turns a light, rusty orange color. Set this mixture aside.

This combination (five spice and oranges) is a classic culinary pairing of opposites. Five spice powder can be a little on the sweet side, so the tart ‘bite’ of the oranges will help neutralize that extreme. Conversely, the tartness of the orange is greatly mellowed with the sweet flavors of five spice powder. By taking out both extremes, you create a sauce that has the best of both worlds. A great citrus burst from the oranges, complimented with the sweet undertones of five spice powder.

Lightly season both sides of your chicken thighs with salt and pepper (make sure the skin has been removed and excess fat is trimmed). In a large (12 inch) non stick skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of canola oil over medium high heat until the oil begins to shimmer. Once shimmering, place the chicken thighs (smooth side down) into the skillet and cook, undisturbed, for 3 to 5 minutes or until the skin has developed a nice golden brown crust.

Flip the thighs and cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes before adding the orange juice mixture to the skillet. Bring the mixture to a simmer before reducing the heat to medium low (to achieve a light, consistent simmer). Allow the thighs to marinate in the juice for 15 to 18 minutes or until they reach about 165 to 170 degrees.

The original recipe called for the juice to be made into a form of sauce, utilizing scallions, cilantro and sesame oil to create a lively finish to the chicken. As I was reading this recipe, however, I came up with my own idea. Rather than creating a sauce, I decided to create a glaze. I’ve learned from other recipes that orange juice when allowed to simmer long enough will essentially caramelize, creating a beautiful glaze.

Once your chicken has reached the desired temperature, increase the heat to medium and flip the thighs. Bring the sauce back to an active simmer and continue to flip the thighs every two minutes or so. After about 5 minutes, the remaining sauce should be very sticky and glaze like (you’ll be able to judge this by the amount that sticks to the chicken when you flip the thighs – if it covers the thigh without dripping off, you’ve reached the glaze stage). The exact time to go from sauce to glaze will vary slightly based on how much juice you were able to get from the oranges – the less juice, the shorter time it will take to glaze.

Toss the chicken in the skillet a few more times to build up a nice layer of glaze before transferring the thighs to a serving dish. Meanwhile, remove the skillet from heat and stir in tablespoon of fresh cilantro and the sesame oil. Mix until well combined and then drizzle this remaining glaze over the chicken. Serve with a side of brown rice and enjoy!

The Results:

You’re always taking a slight risk when you decide to abandon a recipe and forge your own path. I was playing off of my experience and a ‘hunch’ that this recipe would come out great. In the end, I’m glad I followed my hunch because this resulting dish was absolutely delicious.

The orange glaze was the perfect marriage of sweet and citrus. The chicken burst with orange flavor without being too tart or overwhelming. As a nice bonus, most of the liquid from the orange juice mixture cooked into the thighs, rather than evaporating. This infused the already juicy chicken with a great burst of orange juice. Adding the cilantro and sesame oil at the very end took the glaze to an entirely new place. The sesame oil created an almost ‘Asian’ style of flavoring, while the cilantro broke up the sesame flavoring to keep it from running the whole dish.

The end result was a recipe that tasted the way spring feels – bright, fresh and sunny. Clocking in at just under 250 calories, the healthy nature of this dish adds to its appeal. This one is certainly worth trying at home!

That’s all we have for you tonight. Maggie is taking to the kitchen tomorrow night with a brand new recipe that incorporates some of her favorite things to cook with. Be sure to stop in and see what she has cooking. Until then,


1 comment:

  1. Hello,
    I came to your blog and have been reading along your posts.