When features editor Mary Beth Wyko first proposed a round of honey-themed recipes for Tribune Cooks, I was stumped.
I like honey. What's not to like? But I realized I don't use it that often - a little bit drizzled on biscuit, a few tablespoons in the Simply Delicious spicy peanut noodle recipe (and I've already used that in a food page). I bought a bottle of local honey at the Howland Farmers' Market last summer, and we still had half of the bottle in the cupboard.
Since the first couple installments of Battle Honey went the sweet route, I knew I wanted to make something savory. And a beautiful weekend made for a perfect excuse to break out the grill.
Spicy Honey Barbecued Chicken gets its flavor from a marinade packed with ingredients popular in Asian cuisine.
My first thought was to find a sweet honey barbecue sauce that I could slather on meat, probably chicken. I didn't find inspiration from an Iron Chef, but I did get it from a couple of their Food Network cohorts.
One of the first recipes I found searching for ''honey barbecue'' was Emeril Lagasse's Spicy Honey Barbecued Chicken. Instead of a southern-style sweet barbecue sauce, this recipe has an Asian flavor profile with a marinade that includes soy sauce, fresh ginger, sesame seeds, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and sriracha.
We had most of the ingredients for the marinade on hand, so making it wouldn't involve too much shopping or scrambling for a hard-to-find ingredient.
1 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup finely chopped yellow onions
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons sriracha (hot red pepper chili paste)
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
2 tablespoons chopped fresh gingerroot
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons sesame oil
12 skin-on chicken thighs
In a large bowl, combine soy sauce, onions, rice wine vinegar, honey, cilantro, sriracha, sesame seeds, ginger, garlic and sesame oil, and stir well to combine. Place the chicken in a large plastic bag or baking dish and cover with the marinade. Toss to combine and place in the refrigerator, turning frequently, to marinate at least 6 hours.
Prepare the grill with a charcoal bed for direct heat or preheat gas grill to about 350 degrees. Also preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil the grill rack or spray with nonstick spray.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and save the marinade that remains. Grill the chicken, skin-side up, until browned, about 10 minutes. While the chicken cooks, place the leftover marinade in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and simmer until slightly thick, about 10 minutes.
Turn the chicken, and grill until the skin is browned and crispy, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken skin-side up to a roasting pan and roast, basting with the marinade occasionally, until cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes more.
1 pound fresh green beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon onion powder
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Boil a large pot of water. Add the beans and blanch them for 2 minutes. Remove the beans from the water and add them to an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Drain.
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and green beans. Cover, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover, then stir in the vinegar, honey, onion powder, and salt and pepper, to taste. Cook to desired degree of doneness, about 4 to 6 minutes.
The marinade comes together quickly. I used a reduced-sodium soy sauce, but other than that I followed the recipe as printed. And the marinade gives the meat a complex flavor with the ginger and saltiness of the soy sauce hitting the palate first followed by a lingering heat from the sriracha. My younger daughter and I love sriracha (it's great on scrambled eggs, and the sriracha chicken wings at Michael Symon's B Spot restaurants are our favorites), but the two tablespoons used in the marinade are just enough to provide a hint of heat without being overpowering. My wife and older daughter, who aren't hot-heads, had no problems with this.
It's a recipe I'll definitely make again. About the only complaint might be, if this really was Battle Honey on an episode of "Iron Chef America," one of the judges (probably that curmudgeonly Jeffrey Steingarten) would say that the honey wasn't prominent enough in the dish.
The same could be said of the side dish I picked. Emeril pairs it with a Honeyed Apple Cabbage Slaw, but the younger daughter who likes heat doesn't like raw apples and it called for thyme honey, which I didn't have and wasn't sure where I could find it. And I didn't know if the flavor would be altered substantially by substituting it with the honey I already had.
Instead, I found a Paula Deen recipe for Honey Balsamic Green Beans. It's a fast, simple side dish, although the balsamic vinegar definitely is more prominent in the sauce than the honey.
It made for a great outdoor dinner, especially with a glass of white wine sangria with fresh peaches, strawberries, oranges and lemons.