So! Savory orange and ginger! Savory? A glaze? Marinade? An orange juice and ginger marinade? With ... honey? And ... red pepper? What about that unloved tin of five-spice powder? Oh! Don't forget the coconut aminos?!
And that's pretty much the entire thought process behind this dish. Throw a bunch of flavors together, taste, adjust flavors, taste again, then add some chicken and see what happens.
Usually found in Chinese cuisine, five-spice is just like it sounds -- a blend of five spices. I used Penzeys "Chinese Five Spice" which is a mix of cinnamon, star anise, aniseed, ginger and cloves. It's probably other manufacturer's use slightly different spices in their blends, so ymmv.
Because I was feeling a bit lazy, I used Gourmet Garden's lightly dried shredded ginger in the marinade. Like five-spice, it's exactly as it sounds -- lightly dried ginger shreddies. The container says one tablespoon of the lightly dried stuff is equivalent to two tablespoons of the freshly shredded stuff, so keep that in mind if you're planning on using fresh. If you want to try the Gourmet Garden ginger, I found it in with the fresh herbs in the produce section of my local Stop & Shop. (It works really well in carrot-raisin muffins, too).
I tested this recipe with drumsticks first, but roasted the drumsticks at too high a temperature so that the connective tissue riddling the drumsticks did not have time to break down much at all, leaving me with the kind of gristly drumsticks I loathe. The flavors were good, though, and the bits of meat that weren't horribly tendinous/cartilaginous/icky were quite tasty -- deep savory soy with a slight hint of sweet and robust ginger and garlic notes -- and I vowed to try again with a different cut of chicken.
The second time around, I marinated boneless skinless chicken breasts overnight and then cooked them in an oiled grill pan. Before marinating the chicken, I scored each breast in a crisscross pattern -- many articles I'd read told me that marinades never penetrate very far below the surface so I figured scoring the chicken would at least increase the surface area the marinade would be exposed to, hopefully creating a more flavorful chicken. Also, it looked rather pretty.
Simple 5-Spice Grilled Chicken BreastsYield: 2
- 5 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
- 4 Tbsp orange juice
- 2 Tbsp runny honey
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 Tbsp lightly dried shredded ginger [Gourmet Garden]
- ½ tsp Chinese five spice powder [Penzeys]
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes [Penzeys]
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- Pat the chicken breasts dry and score in a crisscross pattern with a sharp knife. Place in a food-safe storage containger
- Whisk together all remaining ingredients and pour over chicken. Leave for 10 mins or refrigerate until needed, if making ahead. (If making ahead of time, try to shake the container occasionally during the day to redistribute the marinade).
- Heat your grill pan over medium-high heat. When hot, brush pan with a little neutral oil (like canola).
- Add chicken to pan. Cook 6 minutes per side or until meat has reached 165°F.
- Remove chicken from heat, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- While chicken is resting, pour marinade into a pot and boil, whisking often, until sauce becomes reduced and syrupy-looking.
- Slice chicken, drizzle with reduced marinade, and serve.
I served the boneless breasts over rice with steamed broccoli and it was very good, even if I do say so myself. The chicken was very tender and flavorful -- kind-of like teriyaki chicken but much less sweet or strongly flavored -- and the leftovers went really well on a salad.