By Christopher Kimball, Milk Street
It’s hard to resist the allure of a roasted chicken lacquered with a glistening glaze. It’s even harder to nail the recipe. And the challenge is the very ingredient that makes the chicken so attractive – the sugar.
Most glazes contain plenty of sugar. And during roasting, that sugar caramelizes to add deep sweet-savory notes to the meat and intensify browning. Trouble is, many glazes drip off during cooking, creating a sticky, scorched mess on your pan and leaving the chicken looking limp.
So for this recipe from our book “COOKish,” we pivoted, applying a deliciously sweet, savory and spicy glaze to skin-on chicken thighs only after the meat finishes roasting in the oven. Pop the bird under the broiler for another few minutes and it emerges beautifully caramelized without the risk of the glaze slipping off.
For this simple, stir-together glaze, either apricot or peach preserves work well –whichever you prefer or have on hand. Apple cider vinegar brings out the acidity in the preserves, and the mild heat from a jalapeno helps to balance the richness of the chicken. Extra glaze does double duty as a dipping sauce, to which we add more cider vinegar for bright contrast.
A dusting of earthy cumin on the chicken before roasting helps ground the flavors and balance the brighter sweetness of the preserves. The result: bold flavors with only a handful of ingredients and 15 minutes of active work.
For easy cleanup, line the baking sheet with foil before setting the wire rack on top. An herbed grain pilaf or steamed basmati rice is a perfect accompaniment.
Start to finish: 50 minutes (15 minutes active)
2 tablespoons ground cumin
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
½ cup apricot preserves OR peach preserves
3 tablespoons cider vinegar, divided
1 jalapeño chili OR 2 Fresno chilies, stemmed and sliced into thin rounds
Heat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet. Stir together the cumin, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper; use to season the chicken on all sides. Place the chicken thighs skin side up on the rack. Roast on the middle rack until they reach 175 degrees Fahrenheit, about 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix the preserves, 2 tablespoons vinegar and the jalapeño. Once the chicken is cooked through, brush it with some of the mixture. Stir the remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar into the remaining preserves mixture and serve with the chicken.