25 years ago, if you had asked me to eat this dish, I would have said no. (I’m sure that I would have said it in a completely stubborn AND adorable way. I’m also sure my mom agrees with me here.) As a child, I was very much in the anti-rhubarb camp. Looking back, I’m not sure why. 99.9% of rhubarb recipes are dessert recipes, involving sugar, sugar, and more sugar. What five-year-old wouldn’t love that? (I actually think my childhood rhubarb hang-ups were more psychological. It looked like celery to me, and I was NOT a fan of celery.) Luckily, my tastes have matured since then. 😉
Even so, if you had asked me to make this five years ago, I would have probably given you the side-eye and wondered why on earth you’d waste rhubarb in a main dish. Aren’t there enough crisps, cobblers, bars, cakes and pies for rhubarb? Why do we have to eat it for dinner? But, with age comes wisdom, and the knowledge that while there are indeed plenty of delicious rhubarb desserts, man cannot (or should not) exist on sugar alone.
And since rhubarb season happened to coincide with my cake decorating class, we really didn’t need any more dessert in the house. I thought about freezing the rhubarb from our first CSA share, but I already put quite a bit of rhubarb up for next winter. So when I saw this recipe in the New York Times, I was intrigued. Skeptical, but intrigued.
I scaled the recipe down, since I didn’t have an entire chicken on hand (and let’s face it, an entire chicken is more than I need to make for the two of us). I was pleasantly surprised by how easily it came together AND by how well it turned out. You do need to plan ahead – the chicken should hang out with the thyme for a few hours – but as long as you do that, it’s totally do-able on a weeknight. I’ll be the first to admit that the sauce isn’t the prettiest, but its bright, tart flavor flavor makes up for the drab appearance. (I did forget to add the butter to the sauce, but since we didn’t miss it, I’m omitting it from my directions below.) It got a solid four out of five stars from Andy, which means I’ll definitely be hanging on to this recipe – you know, for those days when we need a break from rhubarb pie. 😉
Chicken with Rhubarb Sauce
2 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
5 sprigs of thyme
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 scallions, white and light green parts finely chopped, dark green parts reserved for garnish
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 1/2 cups rhubarb, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
1/4 cup white wine* (I used my favorite… again.)
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
Pat chicken dry with a paper towel and place in a bowl. Generously season with salt and pepper and place the thyme sprigs in the bowl with the chicken. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for at least an hour. If possible, let chicken sit overnight with the thyme. (Mine hung out in the fridge for about 10 hours while I was at work.)
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place the chicken in the pan, skin side down. Reserve the thyme sprigs. Cook the chicken until skin is nicely browned and releases easily from the pan. Flip the chicken over and cook until the other side is nicely browned as well. Remove the chicken from the pan and place on a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium. Add the white and light green scallion parts to the pan and cook until lightly browned and tender, about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and reserved thyme sprigs and cook for another minute. Pour the wine into the pan and bring the mixture to a simmer, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the honey, 1/4 teaspoon salt and several grinds of fresh pepper to the pan. Stir to combine.
Add the chicken back to the pan in a single layer.** Cover and cook over medium-low heat until chicken reaches 165 degrees. Garnish chicken with reserved green onions and serve with rhubarb sauce.
*Chicken broth can be substituted for wine, if you find that you don’t quite have enough wine on hand… not that I’d know anything about that… 😉
**If your sauce looks too dry or like it’s in danger of burning, you can add a splash of wine or chicken broth when you add the chicken.
From the New York Times
Click here for a printable version.