Thursday, May 10, 2012

Find Something That Inspires You!

Sometimes I find it fun to go to the grocery store and walk through the produce section until I find something that inspires me.  A few months ago my interest was piqued by something that looked rather interesting; a minneola.


A minneola, as I later found out, is the cross between a tangerine and grapefruit, and produces a wonderful juice that doesn’t quite have the bite of orange juice but still maintains that wonderful citrusy flavor.  Somehow the idea came to mind that I would try and make a fresher and not so deep-fried version of that *citrus of choice* chicken you get at your favorite fast-food Chinese restaurant.  Paired together with some sautéed green beans and homemade fried rice (using the other night’s leftovers) it would hopefully turn out to be deliciously simple, and much fresher than that stuff you get at the mall.  Since then I have refined the recipe a bit to make it work using only one pan (two if you choose to do fried rice) while making a fresh homemade version of one of everybody’s favorites.


Our hardware today is quite simple.
1. Medium frying pan which is oven safe (cast iron!)
2. Citrus Reamer to juice our fruit
3. Ginger grater (microplane will work well too)

And the lineup:

Juice of 1 Minneola
1 Cup Chicken Stock (preferably homemade)
2 Tablespoons Sesame Seeds
2 Tablespoons Honey
1 Inch knob of ginger, peeled and grated
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce, additional to taste
2 Tablespoons butter
4 Chicken Leg Quarters
1 Clove Garlic, finely minced

1 lb. or so of fresh green beans, stems removed
1 Tablespoon peanut oil
Zest of 1 Minneola
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
Slivered almonds to garnish


So before we get to the down and dirty, I feel I owe you a few explanations into where my train of thought was going when I was coming up with this.  First of all, why chicken leg quarters?  If you’ve ever eaten that glazed chicken at your local establishment you’ll quickly realize there is no white meat to be found.  While they probably do this to save money (which is certainly a great reason to do something) I also prefer the moist and meaty texture you get from the dark thigh and leg meat.  Secondly, why specify homemade chicken stock?  As I will undoubtedly cover sometime in the future, I like to save money by buying whole chickens and breaking them down myself.   After that process is completed you’ve got a wonderful pile of leftovers that would be a shame to waste.  Why spend $4-5 for a quart of chicken stock at the store when I can make a gallon with these leftovers, some water, and some veggies.  Way cheaper, much tastier, and you know exactly what’s going into your food.  I digress, homemade chicken stock is cheaper, has a more developed flavor, and can be packaged into any size container you want for convenient future use.  What else could you ask for?

1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Toss the chicken leg quarters into the cast iron skillet, skin facing up, and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt.  Bake for 30-45 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.   Remove from oven, and remove chicken to rest on side plate.  Remove liquid and grease that has rendered from chicken.

Packed House

baked2. Now to the stove top.  Heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil and 1 tablespoon soy sauce on medium high; sauté green beans until fork tender, about 5-8 minutes.  I like them to maintain a little bit of the fresh crispness for texture.

3.  At the last moment, toss green beans with almonds and minneola zest.  Remove to serving plate.


4.  Melt butter in same frying pan over medium high heat, and return chicken quarters to pan, skin side down, until skin is golden brown and crispy.  Remove to clean plate.

5.  Quickly sauté minced garlic in remaining butter for 1 to 2 minutes, then add chicken stock, honey, ginger, soy sauce, and sesame seeds to pan over high heat.  Reduce until thick and caramelized.  Return chicken to pan quickly and toss until thoroughly coated to glaze.

Don't forget to stir!

Finally, to round out the meal, I made a simple fried rice using a 50/50 mix of brown and white rice I had left over from a dinner earlier in the week.  Using leftover rice or simply cooled down rice is a necessity when making fried rice, because for some reason once the grains cool down they separate much easier and get that lovely texture that is fried rice.  I wish I could supply you with quantities on this one… but this one really works best catered to your personal taste.  That’s one of the fun things about fried rice, you can take it in several directions, and make it with your personal favorites.  Here’s my simple ingredient list:

1 tbsp peanut oil
2 whole fresh scallions, thinly sliced
Leftover rice
1 egg
Fresh bean sprouts
Soy sauce

1.  Start off by getting your oil nice and hot in a large frying pan, or wok if you have one.  Just before it starts smoking add the rice and fry for 1-2 minutes.

2.  Make a well in the middle of the rice and place the contents of one egg inside, scramble with a fork and cook through.  Then mix together with the rest of the rice.

Well... a deep subject

3.  Add vegetables and then soy sauce to taste, as least a couple tablespoons.  It really depends on how much rice you are using.  Fry until heated through and vegetables have slightly softened.


Now doesn’t that look delicious?  Granted, it may not be as quick as stopping by your local establishment, but this dish is simple and tasty.  By baking the chicken first we make sure it reaches a safe temperature, and then get that extra crispy skin everybody loves by browning it quickly in the butter.  Once the glaze begins to reduce down the sugar in the honey and minneola caramelizes and creates a wonderfully rich and flavorful compliment to the crispy skinned chicken.  By including the zest of the citrus with the green beans a common thread is pulled throughout the plate.  Together with the fried rice you now have a dinner that rivals any fast-food you could find, and will certainly have your loved ones or guests asking for more!

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