Sweet and smoky and spicy are three flavours that work wonderfully together, and this recipe for roasted chicken thighs is a fast, easy and delicious way to make that point.
I start by combining a mess of dry seasonings with honey to use as a wet — though very thick — rub for the chicken. The spicy comes from ginger and chili powder, but have no fear — it's mild. And what heat there is gets tamed by the sweet honey and the mellow smoked sweet paprika.
For a second blast of sweet, we roast the chicken thighs on top of a layer of orange slices. The sugars in these slices caramelize during cooking, intensifying the flavours. The juice from the slices is the finishing touch that gets squeezed over the chicken, tying everything together.
The best part is that while the flavours may be complex, the prep isn't. The whole thing is ready for the oven less than 15 minutes, and is ready to serve just 25 minutes later. Big flavour without a big time commitment.
HONEY-PAPRIKA CHICKEN WITH ROASTED ORANGES
Start to finish: 40 minutes (15 minutes active)
4 navel oranges
1/4 cup smoked sweet paprika
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground dry ginger
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons chicken broth, white wine, orange juice or water
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 cup mixed marinated olives, sliced
Heat the oven to 400 F. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
Slice off and discard the ends of each orange. Cut each orange crosswise into 4 thick slices. Arrange the slices in a single layer over the baking sheet.
In a small bowl, mix together the paprika, garlic powder, chili powder, salt, cumin and ginger. Stir in the honey and broth to form a thick paste. Rub the paste thickly and completely over each chicken thigh, then set the thighs in an even layer over the orange slices. Scatter the olives over the chicken. Roast for 25 minutes, or until the chicken reaches 165 F.
To serve, divide the chicken thighs and olives between 8 servings plates. Use tongs to squeeze 1 or 2 orange slices over each serving.
Nutrition information per serving: 320 calories; 130 calories from fat (41 per cent of total calories); 15 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 75 mg cholesterol; 25 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 18 g sugar; 23 g protein; 670 mg sodium.
J.M. Hirsch is the food editor for The Associated Press. He blogs at http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com and tweets at http://twitter.com/JM_Hirsch