Thursday, January 04, 2007
Molasses in January
Molasses isn't necessarily slower in January than it is in December. Just ask any Bostonian over the age of 85.
Apart from a possible spike in interest after bizarre, molten tragedies, I doubt many people have taken the time to note the subtle variations in velocity of room temperature molasses from one month to the other.
I attribute the phrase "as slow as molasses in January" to the fact that the only activity in which it might passively engage after Christmas is its sad return to the back of the pantry cupboard. There it will remain, stuck in its own ooze next to the rosewater and gifted holiday chutneys until the need to make gingerbread men grabs hold of us once again. Or, gingerbread woman. I don't have a lady-shaped cutter, so I opt instead to make the occasional gingerbread k. d. lang, which I never have the heart to eat.
One of my easy-to-acheive New Year's resolutions this year is to utilize my most seldom-used pantry items. This week, it's molasses. Here's a way to rid yourself of another three tablespoons:
There are several molasses-based glazes for pork products, but precious few for chicken. I like this recipe. I even added bacon to it to play be on the safe side. Of course, I add bacon to pretty much everything.
4 whole chicken legs (use whatever pieces you like, I just think that the legs are better-suited--
and cheaper-- than breasts)
1 large yellow onion, roughly sliced
3 strips thick-cut bacon, diced
3 tablespoons unsulphured molasses
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon allspice
2 scallions, green parts sliced for garnish
1 tablespoon cooking oil (I use olive oil)
Coat chicken with salt, cover and refrigerate for one hour (This step can certainly be omitted, if you are sodium-conscious. Of course, you can brine the chicken, too. Your choice). Rinse chicken under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels.
In a small bowl, combine molasses, maple syrup, allspice and mustard until a smooth consistency appears.
In a cast iron skillet, cook bacon on a medium flame, rendering as much fat as possible. When crispy, remove bacon pieces to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Ignore them for a while. Add oil to the skillet. When the fats are hot enough, add chicken and brown on both sides. When sufficiently browned, turn the pieces skin side towards heaven and brush the molasses glaze over them. Add in the onion. Put skillet and its contents into a 350 degree oven. Go do something else if you have to, but come back to the oven every few minutes to reglaze. Keep this up for about 45 minutes, or until you see what I am assuming to be the ankle socket of the chicken exposed. That, to me, says it's done.
Serve the chicken with caramelized apples. Or don't.
2 large apples (your choice, but I would chose a variety that stands up to cooking--Red
Delicious work well. I used Braeburn, which worked nicely, too.)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Line a baking sheet or large platter with waxed paper. Mix sugar and spices in a medium-sized bowl. Toss half of the apple slices with the sugar mixture.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add sugar-coated apples. Cook until the sugar caramelizes and the apples are cooked through, turning often. About 4 minutes. Transfer to waxed paper. Clean surface of skillet with paper towels. Add clean oil and repeat steps with the remainder of the apples.
Place apples and onions from the chicken pan on a large platter. Add the chicken. Sprinkle with chopped scallion and bacon bits. Do try to eat it hot.