Dinner for Two: Honey Beer Chicken

It’s always a good thing when your husband comes in the door mid-week and says – “It smells like Shabbas in here!” and all you’ve made is dinner for the two of you with five simple ingredients. There are plenty of cookbooks on the market to guide you in making mouth watering recipes with small portions just for couples, but I don’t have any dinner for two titles in my cookbook collection, as it is confined to a 20 inch shelf in our dining room. So I either cook up a recipe that I know will yield leftovers for lunch, or divide the recipe ahead of time to make just two servings. The other week I spotted a recipe that looked delicious and easily divisible – chicken with honey, beer, thyme and onion.

I found this particular recipe in an area I often to turn when feeling confined by the limits of that 20 inch shelf – a cook book from the shelves of the Cambridge Public Library. The first time I ventured past works of fiction and checked a cook book out of the library there were lasting impacts on my life. It was the Healthy Life Kitchen by Marilu Henner that called out to me, with it’s vibrant cover and the author’s recognizable face, and for the ensuing 3 months I ate a vegan diet, the other benefit was that I knew that checking a cookbook out of the library was a great way to test drive a new title, or just flirt with a few recipes.

And test driving was just what I wanted to do with Joan Nathan’s new cookbook on Jewish recipes from France. I was hoping they would bring me back to a 48 hour Paris whirlwind that Sam and I were on in July. When I brought the book home from the library I quickly skimmed through its pages and found recipes for a cherry tomato crustless quiche, provencal stuffed trout, and lemon tart that I wanted to try. But, as is my pitfall with library cookbooks, I let the book sit on my desk, untouched through each allowable library renewal period. The night before the book was really due I revisited the pages in a last ditch effort. When I saw the honey chicken dish, a hybrid of Morroccon and French cuisine, I did some cook’s math – additions of ingredients, divisions of amounts and subtraction of difficult steps – until I came up with the dish I have to share with you.

It was helpful that I already had two chicken thighs from Grow and Behold defrosted in my refrigerator. I actually had all of the other ingredients for the dish in my kitchen as well. An onion quickly melted in a pan with olive oil that served as the bed for the chicken. The beer, honey and thyme came together in a quickly boiled sauce that was poured over the onion and chicken for baking. Thyme is becoming one of my go to herbs in sauces. I used it in a killer blueberry steak sauce, and after adding it to this recipe, I’m sold on it’s power. I went with a dark beer and two different shades of honey – a darker buckwheat and a lighter clover. This combination gave the onions a beautiful color and balanced the sweet and savory elements of the dish. Enjoy.

Dinner for Two: Honey Beer Chicken
Adapted from Joan Nathan’s Honey Coated Baked Chicken

1 large onion
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
2 chicken thighs, defrosted
¾ cup dark beer
3 sprigs thyme
¼ cup honey (I liked using an equal mix or dark and light honey)

Preheat the oven to 350 degree.

Slice the onion in  half lengthwise, trim the ends and cut into small, long slivers.

Over medium heat warm olive oil and then add the sliced onions and season with salt and pepper. Stir often until the onion slices become very soft and golden brown – this should take about 10 minutes. If they start to char, lower the flame. When they are done, spoon them into a small baking dish.

Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the chicken thighs and brown them over medium heat in the pan you just cooked the onions in. It should take one to two minutes on each side to get a nice dark color on them. Then transfer the browned chicken into the baking dish, on top of the onions.

Pour the honey into the same pan that the chicken and onions were cooked in. Add the beer and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce the liquid by half and then pour over the chicken and onions.

Bake the chicken uncovered for 20 minutes. Test with a digital thermometer that the pieces register at least 165 degrees to know that they are done. Serve with steamed green beans.

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