I wasn’t sure how excited I was about the end of summer. Transitions from dresses and sandals to tights and boots, from fresh salads to soups, from endless days to waking up in the dark and coming home to the dark. Then I went grocery shopping and picked up the season’s first Brussel’s sprouts and sunchokes. Then I got the latest Bon Appétit and bookmarked about five fall recipes that I knew I had to try. And this caramel chicken was the first on my list!
I’m a huge fan of sweet and salty dishes, whether it be dinner or dessert. I knew that getting Jé to try this one would be a bit of a challenge, so I didn’t give him a choice in the matter ;) This dish came together quite easily and was totally worth the hour or so that I dedicated to it. Granted, most of that time was not hands-on, and I think this would be easy enough to make for a weeknight meal. The sweetness of the caramel sauce was balanced with rice vinegar and soy sauce and amplified in the flavor-packed onions and garlic that were slowly turned into an almost confit texture during the cooking process. The rice pilaf that I served with this chicken was the perfect complement, adding texture and soaking up all of the wonderful sauce.
Caramel chicken with onions and garlic
Adapted slightly from Bon Appétit
Ingredients (serves 4):
4 chicken drumsticks
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 small onions
8 cloves of garlic
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon ground or fresh ginger
1 teaspoon fenugreek
Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven or deep frying pan. Once it’s very hot, add the chicken and let it brown without moving it around too much. After about 6-8 minutes, check it and turn it over, browning the other side. While the chicken is browning, you can prepare the garlic and onions. Cut the garlic cloves in half and remove the germ on the inside. Slice thinly. Do the same with your onions.
Once the chicken is browned, remove from the pan and set aside. Add your garlic and onions next, keeping the heat on medium-high, and stir them constantly for about 2-3 minutes. Remove and place with chicken. Drain any remaining grease from your pan.
Now you’re ready for the sauce. Add about a half cup of water to the pan to deglaze whatever burnt bits are left in it. Then stir in the brown sugar. Stirring occasionally, let this mixture cook down for about 10 minutes until it begins to thicken. Add the rice vinegar and simmer for another minute or two. Now you can add the stock, soy sauce and spices (ginger and fenugreek). Place the chicken skin side up and reduce heat to medium low, letting the chicken simmer in the sauce until cooked through, about 15-20 minutes longer. If you’re making the rice pilaf, now is the time to put it in the oven!
Once your chicken is cooked through (pierce the thickest part with a knife; if the juices run clear, you’re good to go!), remove it once again and up the heat to high. Boil the sauce until it’s thick enough to coat a spoon, 8-10 minutes. Then simply toss the chicken back in until it’s warm enough to serve!