Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sweet-Sour Chicken with couscous

I'm not quite sure how I feel about this recipe. On the one hand, I liked it a lot, as I do most "sweet and sour" things. On the other, I thought it was a little odd. Sweet, vinegary things tend to exist in a tasting "blind spot" for me, since I pretty much like them regardless, and Victor's normally my check on this tendency. Since he's not here, I'm a little concerned that my sense that the recipe is odd would translate to "ew" for someone slightly less enamored of this kind of flavor combination.

Anyway, I liked it. If you're going to be serving left-overs, I would suggest removing the meat from the bone and mixing the chicken with the sauce. It makes eating it in an office-type environment a little easier, and since the meat is basically braised, it's falling off the bone anyway.

I served it with a little whole-wheat couscous, which might not be all that authentic, but was easy and tasty.

Chicken Thighs in Sicilian Style Sweet-Sour Sauce with Mint
from The Splendid Table newsletter

  • Good tasting extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 large garlic cloves, thin sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dry whole leaf oregano
  • 1 medium sized ripe tomato, chopped, or 2 canned tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup wine or cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 sugar, or to taste
  • 3 tight-packed tablespoons spearmint leaves, torn

1. Lightly film the bottom of a 12-inch straight sided sauté pan with olive oil. Heat over medium high. Add the chicken thighs, skin side down, and turn heat to medium. Slowly brown the thighs on both sides, sprinkling them with salt and pepper. They should be bronzed and crisp.

2. Stir in the garlic cloves, pepper flakes, oregano, and tomato, and sauté 1 minute over medium heat. Add the vinegar, water, and sugar (stand back in case it spatters). Adjust the heat so the liquid bubbles very gently, cover the pan and cook the thighs about 20 minutes, or until they reach 170°F. at their centers on an instant reading thermometer.

3. At this point, you could cool the dish and refrigerate the chicken in its sauce overnight. To finish the chicken, heat it in the sauce until it's hot all the way through. Remove it to a platter. Then simmer down the pan juices by about half, scraping up all the brown bits with a spatula until it is rich tasting, with a good balance of sweet, tart and spicy. Adjust flavors if needed. Pour over the chicken and scatter with the fresh mint. Serve hot or warm.
Serves 4

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