Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pioneer Woman: Honey-Plum-Soy Chicken

I picked this recipe.  I was so excited.  I mean, it sounds amazing -- slightly Asian flair, sweet and salty, and served over egg noodles.  Looked like it was right up my alley, so to speak.  And the cookbook description was very enticing.  So, let's get to the review.

PW: Honey-Plum-Soy Chicken

Verdict:  Good, but not amazing.  And potentially too salty.
Make it again: With modifications, for sure.
Cost Factor:  A little on the pricey side.  The biggest items are the bottle of wine, the jar of plum preserves, and the bottle of soy sauce.  And fresh plums.  Otherwise, the chicken and other stuff are inexpensive and we usually have them on hand, anyway.  (And in summer, we often enough have plums, too.)

Cell phone photo, sorry.

First of all, a warning:  If you are making this, buy the low-sodium soy sauce.  I must admit that I had some reservations about this recipe precisely over this issue, since I generally find Kikkoman and other store-bought soy sauces to be overly salty. (My favorite is the packets we get with take-out, and incidentally they are each exactly a tablespoon, so if you're ever in a pinch for soy sauce you can use those.  Unfortunately, this recipe called for 20 ounces, which meant an entire bottle a handful of packets wouldn't cut it.  Despite our incredible leftover-sauce collection, that still would have exhausted my supply. And my fingers, with all that tearing!)

Since I had to use 20 ounces of soy sauce and only the regular-style came in a 20-ounce bottle (and the others came in awkward volumes not easily doubled or what-have-you to get to 20 ounces), I had to decide what to do.  I truly stood there for a moment thinking about whether I really needed 30 ounces of soy sauce and wanted to have to measure it, or if the regular one would do it.  In the end, decided that since the recipe didn't specify low-sodium soy sauce, I'd just do regular.


This recipe was really easy and the end result was really good, but I can't lie to you, folks:  it was too salty.  Salty enough that it upset Mick's stomach and gave the kids "the toots."

So, how did it all come together, and what else can I tell you?

First of all, look at that photo up top.  Wouldn't you be enticed by it, too?  I'm not disappointed in this pick, just reaffirmed in my previous belief that if I need to use store-bought soy-sauce, use low-sodium.

Sheesh, have I mentioned that enough?!  Low sodium.  Got it. Move along, Jen, moooove along...

Second, this is a really good recipe if you've got some stuff to do in the afternoon but can periodically check in and out.  You can get the marinade going, step away for a while, come back to chop and brown, and then step away for a few hours.  Once you've got all the ingredients going and ready to simmer, you can leave it virtually as long as you want, and I'd say probably two hours at a minimum.  That worked out well, because I had my very last busy tutoring day on Tuesday, and in the first break I was able to put the chicken in marinade and then come back at breaks to do the other steps.  Then it just cooked while I tutored and dinner was ready when I was done. NICE!

Note:  the recipe calls for plum preserves, and Mick and I were in Kroger and could only find jam.  We went with that rather than trying to hunt down preserves.  I have no idea if it made a difference.  The difference between jam and preserves generally is how much fruit "chunk" you have. (Jam tends to have less chunks and preserves more chunks, but the two names are often used interchangably. It's not as remarkable a distinction as jelly to preserves.  Aren't you glad you didn't ask?!  And yes, I had to look that up.  You're welcome.)

You also need a cup of honey and 20 ounces of soy sauce. You knew about the soy sauce, though.

And you need to chop up some fresh plums.  That's tricky, yo.  I ended up slicing around and twisting them as though they were avocados and then cutting around the pit.  Hint: firmer plums work best for this method.  The mushed parts are where I tried to remove the pit; the nice slices are where I carefully sliced around the pit.  I have no idea if this matters.  I suppose it matters if you want a pretty picture!

You marinate the chicken in two cups of red wine with some bay leaves.  That made for an icky Dexter-ish photo, so I am sparing you.

When the marinating is done (it takes about an hour), you brown the chicken and then throw in some garlic, more wine, and the soy sauce mixture -- soy sauce, plum preserves, and a cup of honey.  Top it off with the chopped plums.

Then you simmer for a while and when you think the chicken's about falling off the bone, you're done.

Your whole house will smell amazing.

Serve over egg noodles with the pan juices as a sauce.

Beware:  our whole house STILL smelled of this the next morning!  This dish was very yummy, and I would have no qualms about making it again, but I won't make it for guests until I master the saltiness.  It bordered just on the inedible.  We all ate all our dinner, but we pitched the leftovers, if that helps you judge.

Three July PW meals down, all of them successes, and only two still to go.  It's a good month!


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