Sunshine Chicken

You know what makes me happy?  Summer time.  But it’s a little hard to come by in Virginia in February.  Still, we’ve had a couple of days lately that at least assure me that the Summer will return eventually.  Today was one of those days.  So, how do you create summer in the kitchen?  Marinate chicken in orange juice and serve it with last year’s zucchini retrieved from the basement freezer, my portal to Summer’s past.

Guy Fieri calls this Citrus Chicken, but I strayed far enough from the recipe that I felt compelled to change the name.  His way was too long, too much trouble and included ingredients that I didn’t have.  Still, it was a great inspiration.  I had no fresh mint – left it out.  I had no fresh basil – substituted dried.  I had no shallots – substituted sweet onion.  Then I got to the part about the glaze.  I decided to add ginger, chili powder and marmalade to the marinade and cook it down for about 20 minutes.  No basting, just added it to the top of the chicken thighs for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

The original recipe estimates 90 minutes of cooking time.  I used boneless thighs so that cut the cooking time in half.  If you don’t have 45 minutes to bake them feel free to do them on the stove top in a heavy skillet or on the grill if weather permits.  They should be done in about 15 minutes that way.  You can then add the glaze to the top and stick them in the broiler for a minute or two to caramelize the sugar a little.  The nice thing about thigh meat is that even if you cook it a little longer than necessary it doesn’t get dusty dry like breast meat.

I think it’s the glaze that really makes this chicken special.  The orange juice is very bright.  The peel from the marmalade adds just a touch of bitter and the ginger a touch of sharpness.  Terrific balance.  I did use white balsamic vinegar, but I think you could easily substitute champagne or white wine vinegar.  I’d advise against using plain white or cider vinegar.  The flavor of those is too strong for this.

The chicken is super moist and super good.  Zucchini and onions are the perfect complement.  Zucchini has a lot of water in it, particularly if it’s been frozen and thawed.  You’ll need to cook it longer than fresh in order to cook the water out.  I like my squash and onions to have a little char on them so I cooked them in olive oil and butter for about 20 minutes.  Talk about Summer on a fork!  The flavor was perfectly preserved in the Food Saver bag.  Yum!

Good? You betcha.
Easy? Yep.
Good for company? More like a good weeknight dinner.
Special shopping? Nope.

Sunshine Chicken

Marinade

  • 1 pkg boneless, skinless chicken thighs (1 1/2 lbs)
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons grated orange
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • Glaze

    In a small, heavy skillet heat the leftover marinade. Add 2 tablespoons orange marmalade, 1 tablespoon minced, fresh ginger and 1 teaspoon chili powder. Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered 20 minutes. Spoon over chicken for the last 10 minutes of baking.

    Directions

    Combine all the ingredients in a large resealable plastic bag and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours.

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

    Remove the chicken from the marinade. Reserve the marinade. Place the chicken in an 8×8 baking dish and bake for 35 minutes. Top with the glaze and bake another 10 minutes.

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