It is not uncommon for me to try a new recipe, think ‘that was great’ and then immediately cast it aside to be forgotten for months or years (!) before I get around to making it again. It drives my husband crazy – he is a more adventurous eater than I and loves trying new things, but has been known, on occasion, to utter something along the lines of, “can we not have ANYTHING more than once”?!
It’s not that I don’t like consuming the same foods over and over – in fact leftovers in many forms rate spectacularly highly on my list of good things to eat, and I can happily go through an entire week of the same soup or salad for lunch when I’m on a roll. I think it has more to do with the fact there are just SO. MANY. RECIPES. in the world, and there will never, in my lifetime, be enough meals to cook or eat all the ones I want to.
So it’s strange, then, that I should have made the following dish not once but three times this week. And even more so because there’s nothing obviously enticing about it: it’s a chicken dish, which, having spent a good deal of time exclusively developing products and recipes for a poultry company (and eating a lot of the stuff), means I am not easily interested in anything much to do with chicken. Also, the sauce it’s cooked in contains pineapple juice, lending a distinct fruity vibe to the finished dish. I have a general aversion to pineapple or its juice in food, steering well clear of savouries involving the words ‘sweet and sour’ or ‘Hawaiian style’ (pizza aside. I know. I’m sorry), and cakes of the Hummingbird/upside-down-pineapple variety. Despite all those – admittedly odd – reasons to just skim past the recipe whilst flicking through the latest issue of this magazine, I didn’t, and it turned out to be an easy little weeknight number which cooks like a dream in the combi-steamer.
The dish transcends the sum of its parts to become sticky, tender and delicious, and completely deserving of it’s three-round go here. If you, like me, don’t love pineapple-spiked food, you could use orange juice instead for the sauce. I cooked a batch each way just for fun – both were good but the pineapple version was the standout.
Either way, I hope you’ll like it as much as we do.
Maple, Lime and Ginger Chicken
Adapted from the ‘Sticky Hawaiian Chicken’ recipe in Taste.com.au Magazine (March 2015 issue)
Makes 4 adult serves
Though the photographed version was made with chicken tenderloins, the first time I cooked this was with thigh fillets. It's great both ways and just depends on your preference. I’ve given cooking times below for both cuts.
We ate ours with rice (steamed in the oven first then covered and set aside to keep warm while the chicken and sweet potatoes got combi-steamed). Couscous, quinoa, millet or some flatbread and salad would also be worthy accompaniments.
½ cup (125ml) pineapple juice
2 tbs (20ml) tomato sauce or ketchup
2 tbs (20ml) light soy sauce
2 tbs pure maple syrup (or use honey. Don’t use maple-flavoured syrup, it’s full of synthetic flavouring which will ruin the dish)
1 tbs dark brown sugar
3cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
Zest and juice of 1 lime
600g free range skinless chicken thigh fillets or tenderloins
3 small orange sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into wedges
1 tbs olive oil
½ tsp ground cumin, extra
A handful of fresh parsley, torn
1 red chilli, finely chopped, for garnish (optional)
Mix the everything except the chicken and sweet potatoes in a small saucepan and bring to the boil over high heat. Cook until it reduces by ½ then remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
Set your oven to 200˚C (combination steam). If you have variable steam settings, use 80% or 100%.
Mix the chicken with the sauce in a snug-fitting tray or baking dish. Toss the sweet potatoes with the oil and extra cumin and place in a single layer on another tray (I use the perforated tray which came with my steam oven).
Put the sweet potatoes into the oven. If you’re using chicken thighs, put them in as well (potatoes on bottom shelf and chicken above), and cook everything for approximately 20-25 mins until it’s all tender and browning at the edges. If you’re using tenderloins, cook the sweet potatoes for 12 minutes first, then add the tray of chicken and cook for a further 10-12 minutes.
Sprinkle the chicken with parsley and chilli if using, then serve hot with steamed rice or tucked into a piece of flatbread, with the sweet potato wedges on the side.
*But I don't have a steam/combi-steam oven! You can bake the dish in a regular oven at 200˚C, just add a touch of water to the sauce if it looks as though it's getting a bit thick/dry during cooking. The sweet potatoes and chicken thighs will take about 30 minutes, and tenderloins 15-20.