Simple and Comforting Chili-Honey Chicken

My friends deserve more than a chicken dinner, but at least it’s a start.

A few generous girlfriends came over to my place after work for dinner and to help me with some wedding-related chores. A glass of wine does make envelope-addressing marginally more pleasant, but I was really thankful for their help and wanted to feed them well, to make the kind of comfort food us rushed New Yorkers rarely cook on a weeknight.

Chicken on the bone is so satisfying, so moist, and so flavorful, and this recipe is really a minimal effort. You mix up a simple spice rub with honey and citrus directly in your baking pan, then dump the chicken pieces in and slosh them around, massaging a bit of the chili rub into the skin. They bake in the oven and turn crispy brown, perfect for serving atop a mountain of slow-cooked coarse Anson Mills grits and a few spears of roasted asparagus.

Now that I’ve made them myself, I must admit that Anson Mills grits really ARE incredible. They’re super expensive, but worth it, I think, especially considering how the company is working to revive and preserve near-extinct varieties of corn and growing it all in a sustainable way. There’s a reason these grits seem to be on the menu of every restaurant in Manhattan, and it’s not just because they’re trendy. They’re milled freshly and super delicious.

One warning—it’s been really, really hard to clean the baking dish I used for this one. You might want to consider lining the pan with foil (or a silpat?) before you begin.

Chili and Honey Chicken
Adapted from Gourmet, May 2005
Serves 4-5

Juice of 1 lime
Zest and juice of 1 orange
3 tablespoons chili powder blend (not pure chile powder)
1/2 T garlic powder
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
6 organic chicken legs (thighs attached), skin on

Preheat oven to 425° F and put rack in upper third of the oven.

In a large baking dish (I used a 10 x 15 glass dish), mix lime and orange juices, orange zest, chili powder, garlic powder, honey, salt and pepper. Mix until well blended, then add chicken and turn to coat, rubbing spice mixture into chicken legs.

Bake about 40-45 minutes, turning once. Check with a thermometer to make sure chicken has reached a safe temperature, turning and returning chicken to oven if necessary until cooked through.

In chicken

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