Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Honey, How I Love Ya, How I Love Ya

Unfortunately, my body likes it far less than my mouth. Not to fear, though. Agave nectar to the rescue! In this case, I used dark, raw agave. While still not as complex in flavor as a good honey, it's better than the light stuff. And, of course, it doesn't give me blood sugar spikes.

Tonight, I modified my favorite Honey Baked Chicken to exclude the actual honey. It's essentially a sauce of butter (I use Earth Balance or coconut oil) and honey (agave), seasoned with dry mustard, salt, pepper, and a small bit of madras (or other blend, if you prefer) curry powder for added depth (don't worry, curry-haters, it's not strong at all, but it adds a wonderful complexity). I've been making this chicken since I was 10 years old, so I already have a pretty good handle on the dish. I think it was one of the first things I taught myself how to cook (from an old cookbook I found lying around the house). Of course, even then I didn't actually follow the original recipes to the letter. I vaguely remember it was originally for wings, but it sounded like something that should be on a whole chicken. (I was right) I always made extra sauce on the side, too, from the pan juices, etc. It would be funny to see the original recipe today to see how much I've deviated and changed it along the way.

One challenge I faced early on in my current adaptation is that agave is more simple and sweeter than honey. I could have used less, but didn't realize it until I had as much butter as I wanted and didn't want to increase that ratio. So, I compensated with seasoning. I added a bit more mustard and went heavier than usual on the salt (without it going into over-season land). It still wasn't ideal when it went on the chicken, but I went for it anyway.

When the chicken itself was done, basted several times with its own juices and runoff of any sauce, of course I added some of that lovely juice to the remainder of the sauce for serving. It was exactly what was needed! Some of the chicken drippings and the small amount of sucs that had collected on the sides of the pan (since it was baked with a sauce, not roasted, there wasn't much in the way of sucs), it added the exact richness and depth I was craving.

So, tender chicken, brown rice (cooked in a vegetable broth and turmeric), each drizzled with the extra sauce upon serving, and a side of fresh, steamed broccoli, and that was dinner. Considering I don't eat the skin and I went somewhat sparingly on the sauce, it was a pretty healthy, and definitely balanced, meal. It didn't cause even a blip on my sugar this morning (in fact, it was 1 point lower than yesterday at the same time). I can't wait to hit the leftovers.

I'm also looking forward to making some soup when all is said and done. I have a good start to the stock already with the veggie broth I made for the rice and the rest of the leftover drippings from the chicken.

It occurred to me when our plates were all bones and a few grains of rice that I should have gotten a photo. Oops! We just dug in and I didn't even think of it. I'll try and snap when eating leftovers.


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