“I love that I’m the girl that shares recipes now!”
That’s the subject of an email I received back in November 2008 from my dear friend Maureen. Maureen and I go way back. Prior to this the only recipe I’d probably ever received and/or discussed with her was for mojitos that she learned to make in Cuba. But back in 2008 Maureen was settling into domestic bliss with her fiancé Rob and dabbling in the cooking arena.
She always appreciated good food – organic, local – and especially loved her breakfast.
Sadly Maureen was taken from us last week way too soon after a long struggle with breast cancer. “Mama Sunflower” had a light and a spark that most of us only dream of having. Everyone remembered Maureen! So many were touched by her and are struggling to understand her loss and grieving in their own ways.
So I’m going to honor Maureen in the way I know best: with food. This was the first (and only) recipe that Maureen sent me, in that email titled “I love that I’m the girl that shares recipes now!”. I made it today and felt closer to her. It’s a simple chicken dish, slowly cooked with a sweet-spicy sauce – much like Maureen’s vibrant personality. Her heart was filled with so much love, usually so patient and tolerant, but she also had a side-dish of sass.
Make this comforting dish and be that girl (or boy) that shares their recipes and food with their loved ones. Because I do believe that food is a way of showing love. And as Maureen and her family always remind us, love is the answer!!
Slow-Roasted Chicken in Sweet-Soy Braising Sauce (serves 4-6)
Note: I prefer to buy my chickens from our local butcher as they taste so much better than the mass-produced chickens from the supermarket. As an added bonus, your butcher will probably butterfly the chicken for you (as mine does!). If you are butterflying the chicken yourself, check out this tutorial. There are also lots of videos on Youtube. Basically you just remove the spine and flatten it, so that as much of the chicken as possible is in the braising sauce. Another sidenote: I”m seriously dreaming of pouring the sweet-soy sauce over some chicken wings and baking them for seriously delicious sticky wings!! Let me know if you try that.
4 lb (about 2 kg) whole chicken, butterflied
1 onion, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 red peppers, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/3 cup (75 ml) soy sauce
1/3 cup (70 grams) brown sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup (60 ml) cider vinegar
1/4 cup (60 ml) dry sherry
10 garlic cloves, minced (I recommend using a food processor or mini-prep for mincing…definitely speeds things up)
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1-3 tablespoons siracha, or other hot sauce, to taste (I used 1 tablespoon and it wasn’t too spicy for my spice-averse kids)
Rice, grain or small pasta – for serving
Preheat the oven to 400º F (200º C). Spread chicken as flat as possible in a shallow pan. I use a deep-dish pizza pan but a large sheet pan would work well too. A 9″ x 13” (23cm x 33cm) baking pan is an option, but a shallower pan works better. Scatter onions and red peppers around the chicken.
In a medium bowl, stir together the sauce ingredients (soy sauce through siracha). Pour sauce over the chicken and vegetables, tossing vegetables to coat. Place in the oven and roast for 10 minutes. Reduce oven to 325º F (160º C) and roast for about another hour, basting chicken with sauce every 10-15 minutes. You can tell that the chicken is fully cooked when either (1) a thermometer inserted into the middle of a breast registers 165º F (75º C) or (2)the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh.
Remove pan from the oven. Using a spatula, carefully transfer chicken to a serving platter (you can carve it into individual pieces or present it whole). Using a slotted spoon, place vegetables around chicken. Skim as much fat as you can off the top of the sauce or use a fat separator (as I do in the pics above). Pour sauce from roasting pan into a 12″ skillet over medium heat and cook until reduced slightly, about 5-7 minutes.
Serve chicken with rice, grain (bulgur is our favorite) or a small pasta (couscous is nice). Spoon sauce over chicken, vegetables and rice.
Adapted from The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper