Food & Wine (August 2008)
When we first started this blog, we thought that one of the advantages to forcing ourselves to cook from our food magazines would be that we'd end up eating dishes and flavors we never otherwise would have tried.
But we've largely found ourselves cooking foods that just, well, sound delicious. Maybe it's something we wouldn't have gotten around to cooking, but it's usually something that's solidly within our taste comfort-zone.
So we wanted to cook a dish that would challenge our palates -- something with bold new flavors we'd never combined before.
This chicken with apricots and olives more than qualified.
The recipe is fairly time-intensive, with the need to make a marinade and then marinate for two hours, cook the chicken in the oven and then finish it on the grill, and also make the relish on the stove top. All the steps were easy enough, but still required a lot of very active cooking time.
In making this recipe, we made two substitutions. First, we subbed regular honey in for eucalyptus honey. We didn't have eucalyptus honey on hand -- does anyone? We're not sure it would have made much of a difference in the recipe.
Secondly, though the recipe calls for using chicken thighs, we used bone-in chicken breasts, since we had some that needed to be used. This only meant that we needed to slightly extend the cooking time for our chicken.
The final result?
Sadly, just okay.
The chicken was well-cooked and moist, carrying the flavor of the marinade and as well as the grill.
The relish is tasty. The olives and apricots play off each other well, and it's certainly a flavor combo that was new to us. A final touch of cilantro brightens the relish.
Our problem, though, was that the relish never really married up with the chicken. If we made this again, we might dump the relish into a blender and give it one good pulse to break up the larger bits of apricot and olive. (We'd be wary, though, of fully blending it, as the color might turn out really wacky or some terribly unappetizing shade of brown.)
Ultimately it just tasted sort of like chicken and apricots and olives on a plate, you know? The sum of the parts was exactly equal to...the sum of the parts.
We're glad we tried it, but won't be revisiting this recipe anytime soon.
What have you made recently that was outside of your culinary comfort zone? Discovered a new dish that you were surprised to find that you loved?
Tell us about it! We'd love to hear from you.
ACTIVE TIME: 30 MIN
TOTAL TIME: 3 HRS 15 MIN
This grilled chicken dish transforms the sweet-savory elements of a Moroccan tagine—apricots, olives, couscous—into a light, summery meal. The marinade and relish are both flavored with eucalyptus honey, which has a deep, herbal flavor that’s delicious with the smoky chicken. Plus, the honey caramelizes on the grill, which makes the chicken extra-crispy.
* 1/4 cup eucalyptus honey
* 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon canola oil
* 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
* 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* 1 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon sweet pimentón de la Vera (smoked Spanish paprika)
* 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
* 8 chicken thighs on the bone, with skin (2 3/4 pounds)
* Boiling water
* 1 cup dried apricots
* 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
* 20 green olives, such as Cerignola or Picholine, pitted ( 1/2 cup)
* 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1. In a bowl, whisk the honey with 1/4 cup of the canola oil and the lemon juice, grated ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, pimentón, cayenne, salt and pepper. Arrange the chicken in a glass baking dish. Pour the marinade on top and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 2 hours, turning once.
2. Preheat the oven to 400°. Drain the chicken and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet; reserve the marinade. Cover with foil and bake for about 35 minutes, until cooked through. Remove the foil and discard any juices from the baking sheet.
3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, pour boiling water over the apricots to cover and let stand until plump, 8 minutes; drain.
4. In a skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the shallots and cook over moderate heat until softened, 6 minutes. Add the apricots, olives and the reserved marinade and bring to a simmer. Cook over moderately high heat until the marinade is thickened and glazes the apricots and olives, 2 minutes. Stir in the cilantro.
5. Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Grill the chicken over moderately high heat, turning once, until charred in spots and the skin is crisp, 6 minutes. Transfer to plates, top with the apricot-olive relish and serve.