Spicy Sweet Sheet Pan Chicken

Spicy Sweet Sheet Pan ChickenFall Into a New Year
I did not grow up in a Jewish household, but I have always been fascinated by the connection of food to the traditions and ceremonies of the Jewish faith. The fact that I am drawn to the same foods that are typically found in Jewish kitchens is why I found myself thumbing through recently posted Rosh Hashanah recipes looking for something new.

I consider Rosh Hashanah to be one of the first signs of Fall, at least here in California where we don’t get the temperature drop or the obvious changing of the leaves as in other places. The food for the Jewish New Year is filled with all things fall. Apples, pomegranates, and pumpkins abound for the Rosh Hashanah feast. The only problem, for me at least, is that the tie to traditional ingredients can make it difficult to find a dish that is new and interesting.

Serving a whole fish is as traditional as it gets and I found plenty of recipes for that. But, I also found myself most intrigued by the chicken recipes, probably because I don’t think of chicken as a celebratory ingredient. Chicken is a mid-week work horse for me not the centerpiece of a feast. The chicken I made over the weekend might change my mind even though it’s as easy to throw together as any Wednesday night dinner. Even better, it actually qualifies as a sheet pan recipe so clean up is a breeze.

The original recipe called for dates, but I swapped them out for prunes—mainly because I find dates to be too sweet—and I love any opportunity to throw prunes into a recipe. Feel free to try it either way. I served this with garlic mashed potatoes, but it would be equally tasty with some fluffy, fresh couscous.

Spicy Sweet Sheet Pan Chicken
Adapted from NY Times Cooking
Yields 4 to 6 servings

For the honey marinade
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
4 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
3 tablespoons honey
1 bay leaf
1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
Black pepper, to taste

For the chicken
1 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
3 cups sliced carrots (1/4-inch thick)
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
3/4 cup pitted prunes
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

Make the honey marinade
In a saucepan, whisk together the lemon juice, orange juice, oil, mustard, honey, salt, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, and black pepper to taste. Bring the marinade to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Allot it to cool.

Marinate the chicken
Put chicken in a bowl and add honey marinade. Add the carrots, onion, prunes, and thyme. Turn the mixture several times to coat the chicken. Allow the chicken to marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature, but preferably overnight in the refrigerator.

Bake the chicken
Heat the oven to 425 ºF. Transfer all the ingredients, including the marinade, to a foil-lined sheet pan with a rim. The chicken should be skin-side up.

Roast the chicken until it is browned and cooked through, (about 20 to 30 minutes for breasts and 30 to 40 for legs and wings). Remove the pieces as they are finished cooking.

When the chicken is done, give the carrot mixture in the pan a stir. If the pan looks dry add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water. Continue roasting the carrots until they are tender (about 7 to 12 minutes longer).

Serve the chicken
Arrange the chicken in a serving dish and spoon the carrots and onions over the chicken.


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