As the holiday crush becomes even…I don’t know…crushier, I think it’s pretty safe to say that we’re all looking for some tasty, healthy dishes that we can get on the dinner table in a relative jiffy. If you all are like me, there’s other things to spend your time on, like last minute wrapping (ugh) and braving the hordes in the line at the grocery store (double ugh) and vacuuming up wayward sprinkles from holiday cookie decorating (don’t get me started). Plus, I was dumb enough to purchase wrapping paper that contains glitter particles in it, so this year, the vacuum and I are one.
Cooking dinner is an afterthought right now, but I’m not ready to throw in the towel altogether. I try to save the annual “Twelve Days of Takeout” for the days following Christmas, when I’m truly exhausted and can’t even stand to look at the kitchen. Those are the desperate times. The days before Christmas are all about easy and light dishes that won’t make me feel sluggish and stuffed tighter than a Turducken.
This dish fits the bill. It’s good for you but also full of flavor, thanks to a zingy spice rub and a sticky, luscious tangerine-honey glaze. Since you use fresh tangerine juice (not the concentrated stuff), it’s pleasantly tangy and not overly sweet. I like to use chicken thighs in this recipe, because they are more forgiving and stay juicy even if you get a little distracted in the cooking process, but feel free to use boneless, skinless chicken breast if you prefer.
Reducing the juice for the glaze takes about 15 minutes, which gives you just enough time to steam some rice and chop some crunchy almonds for the top of the dish. Add a steamed vegetable and Viola! You’ve got a yummy, healthy, kid-friendly meal on the table in the time it would take you to order takeout.
I’d call that a holiday gift.
I hope everyone is looking forward to a few days spent with loved ones, gathered around the tree and the table. I know I am. This year will be different, to say the least, but the girls and I have spent lots of time together, baking things that permeate the house with good cheer, and I’m eager to fill hungry bellies with lots of nourishing, comforting things. Well, when I finally get around to planning that Christmas dinner. Tomorrow. For sure.
adapted from Bobby Flay
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
3 tablespoons Spanish paprika (smoked paprika)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons ground fennel seeds
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 cups fresh tangerine juice
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 cup clover honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons chopped slivered almonds
2 green onions, sliced (optional)
Combine spices for rub mixture in a small bowl. Sprinkle chicken with about a tablespoon of the spice mixture and massage into chicken. Let stand for at least 5 minutes. RESERVE extra spice mixture for another use–don’t use all of the spice rub on the chicken or it will be overly spiced.
Combine the tangerine juice and the thyme sprigs in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to about 1/2 cup. Remove the thyme sprigs and discard. Whisk in the honey, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Heat canola oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring constantly, until chicken is cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Pour glaze over and stir until chicken is coated and sticky, about another minute.
Transfer chicken to serving platter and sprinkle with almonds and green onions, if desired.