Monday, January 25, 2010

Sesame Chicken with Orange and Soy Glaze from a magazine that’s a new favorite

        Even with the demise of "Gourmet", our mailbox isn’t exactly empty of food magazines. I still subscribe to at least 6 of them.  And since I started a course called “Food Writer’s Boot Camp”, our house is practically a library for food magazines.  Even just sticking to the English language, we’ve now been introduced to “Delicious” and “Donna Hay” (Australia),"Clean Eating" (Canada) “Cuisine” (New Zealand), “Jamaican Eats” (terrible and strangely aligned to Canada), “Food and Travel”, “Jamie” “Waitrose Food Illustrated”, “Good Food Italian” from the BBC of all places and, our favorite, “Olive”, all from the U.K. 
Not to ignore the American entries that were completely new to us, we’ve discovered "VegNews" and "Vegetarian Times" “Gastronomica”, "Food" “Tastes of Italia”, something called “Southern Lady” which featured upfront an ad for a “Faith building weekend with ‘Southern Lady’ and Christian women from across the nation”.  Well, “Chacun a son gout” as the French say.  But far and away the best discovery among the American magazines was one I’d seen but never picked up before: “Fine Cooking”.

In the interests of full disclosure, Food Writing Boot Camp is led by Laurie Buckle who is the Editor of “Fine Cooking”, from
Taunton Press. She was responsible for the re-design of the magazine last year and she is a wealth of information about food writing. She started her career at Bon Appetit and it's been on a quite a trajectory ever since.   But since I am not pursuing a degree and will not be graded for my course work, I promise you this is not an attempt to curry favor with my teacher. 

What I like about “Fine Cooking” is it is sort of a much more beautiful “Cook’s Illustrated”.  It’s very step-by-step, very informative and consumer-friendly.  I think what frightened me off about it the past was I imagined its recipes were going to more complicated, that my non-cooking school education would be a real setback for using the magazine.  Instead, it’s easy to understand and it really goes into depth:  The February / March issue has an eight page article with everything you could possibly want to know about Braised Short Ribs.
The recipe I’m sharing with you today was excellent.  I include it here even though I had to change the instructions and you can see from the photo why:  I do not have a broiler with any kind of temperature control.  The original recipe had the chicken in a 450 broiler for 20 minutes.  Then it further browned under a 550 broiler for 5-6 minutes.  Instead, I roasted the chicken in a very hot oven 450 degree oven. It was crisp and beautiful and I should have stopped there.  Unfortunately, I was determined to follow directions and stick the chicken under the broiler after it had roasted for 30 minutes.  This was not only unnecessary but, as you can clearly see, did not ‘deeply brown’ the chicken. It went a little too far beyond brown.  Stick with the oven and stay away from the broiler.   This is perfect for weeknights, it’s inexpensive and just exotic enough to be interesting.  It pairs beautifully with Jasmine or Basmati rice.   Here is the recipe:

Sesame Chicken with Orange and Soy Glaze from Fine Cooking:
Vegetable oil for the broiler pan
8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
16 small to medium shiitake mushrooms, stemmed
8 medium scallions (green parts only), cut into 3-inch lengths and split.
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbs. mirin
1/2 tsp. finely grated orange zest
2 Tbs. fresh orange juice
1-1/4 tsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line the bottom of a broiler pan with foil and lightly oil the top of the pan.

S  Season the chicken all over with 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Arrange the shiitake in 8 pairs, gill sides up, on the prepared broiler pan and season with salt and pepper. Arrange 2 or 3 scallion pieces on top of each mushroom pair, then put a chicken thigh, skin side up, on top, tucking in the sides to “round out” each piece.  Roast until the edges of the chicken begin to brown and an instant read thermometer inserted in a thick part of the biggest thigh registers 165°F, about 30 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, combine the soy sauce, sugar, mirin, and orange zest in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
    In a small bowl, stir the orange juice and cornstarch; add this mixture to the saucepan. Return to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and glossy, about 1 minute.

5. To serve, transfer the chicken, scallions, and mushrooms to dinner plates, drizzle with the sauce, and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.

6. Leftover sauce may be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.  It can be used on salmon or steak.
7. Serves 4.  May be halved or doubled.


  1. Can't wait to make this one. Henry loves Sesame Chicken.

    Best - G

  2. Hi! I brought an issue of Donna Hay's magazine a few seasons ago, and the recipes are impressive. This Sesame Chicken looks good!